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Mets give veteran Lima another start

ST. LOUIS -- Instead of rushing rookie Brian Bannister back from the 15-day disabled list, the New York Mets will give Jose Lima another start on Thursday.

Manager Willie Randolph said Tuesday that Bannister, 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA, would throw on the side on Thursday and then likely will make one rehab start for Triple-A Norfolk during the weekend before
returning to the rotation. Bannister has been on the disabled list
since April 28 with a strained right hamstring.

Randolph said it would be a sign of "panic" to use Bannister
on Thursday.

"I don't think it's fair to rush him into a situation where you
can just be cautious and take your time and do what's right,"
Randolph said. "You can throw on the side all you want, but when
you get into heated situations with the adrenaline flowing and
you've got a hamstring pull, you're going to try to do more than
you can maybe and run the risk of setting yourself back."

Lima is 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA, allowing 10 runs in 9 2/3 innings
over two starts while filling Bannister's spot. Jeremi Gonzalez
will pitch on Friday against the Yankees at Shea Stadium, followed
by Pedro Martinez on Saturday and Tom Glavine on Sunday.

Martinez will be working on five days' rest.

"Anytime you give Pedro an extra day, you do that," Randolph
said.

Randolph also reinserted Cliff Floyd, mired in a season-long
slump, in the lineup after two days off against left-handed
starters. Floyd, who had 34 homers, 98 RBI and a .273 average last
year, entered a three-game series against the Cardinals hitting
only .195 with three homers and 14 RBI.

Randolph hoped the break helped Floyd clear his mind.

"Sometimes that stuff can kind of get you going again, so I
just keep my fingers crossed," Randolph said. "If he goes 4-for-4
tonight I'll look pretty smart.

"Make me look good, Cliff."

Randolph said Floyd has been calm throughout his early season
woes. Floyd said he would "go down swinging," and recognized he's
putting the Mets in a tough spot.

"I'm doing the best I can," Floyd said. "You can't keep
putting a guy in there if he's not producing.

"It's just a constant battle."