The Mets' Game 1 starter against the Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon (ESPN, 4 p.m. ET) is still a mystery after Orlando Hernandez felt discomfort in his right leg while he was jogging
in the outfield Tuesday, but the veteran right-hander reportedly said he might be able to pitch after all.
After icing his calf at home, Hernandez told Newsday that he hopes to still give it a shot in Game 1.
"Hopefully I can pitch," El Duque told Newsday. "My plan is to go out there. I think I can do it. Let's see."
The NL East champion Mets, already missing Pedro Martinez, are faced with the possibility they would have to replace scheduled starter Hernandez because of a calf injury, too. The Mets will announce their postseason roster this morning.
The 40-year-old Hernandez was pulled off the field and went for an MRI exam.
At his news conference yesterday, Mets manager Willie Randolph took a wait-and-see approach.
"Obviously, we're up in the air on who's our starter
tomorrow," Randolph said. "We have some
options, obviously, but we'll wait and see how he feels first and
then we'll make a decision."
Those options are limited, however. Martinez, a three-time Cy
Young Award winner, is out until next summer because of calf and
Tom Glavine, slated to start Game 2, pitched Saturday in
Washington. So if the Mets want to bump him up, the 40-year-old
lefty would be working on only three days' rest.
Steve Trachsel, who went 15-8 with a 4.97 ERA this year, skipped
his scheduled outing last weekend to attend to a family matter on
the West Coast. He was due back in New York on Tuesday evening, but
Randolph said the right-hander probably wasn't an option to pitch
Wednesday afternoon in Game 1 on such short notice.
Randolph didn't even think Trachsel had been throwing while he
was away from the team.
That left rookie right-hander John Maine as a possibility. Maine
was 6-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 16 games this season, including 15
But he obviously lacks the October experience the Mets were
counting on with Hernandez, acquired from Arizona in May. El Duque
is 9-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 19 career postseason games, including 14
starts, mostly with the Yankees. He also owns four World Series
rings, and his teams are 12-3 in postseason series.
Hernandez's MRI showed an injury to his calf, the Mets said --
but they wouldn't provide further details.
Doctors were to re-evaluate the test results Tuesday night, and
the Mets planned to wait and see how Hernandez feels when he wakes
up Wednesday before deciding on a starter. They must submit their
25-man roster for the first round by 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
"It's not great news, that's for sure," Randolph said. "He
was very upset."
As for the Dodgers, their rotation is all set for the first
three games. Derek Lowe will go in the opener, followed by rookie
left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo and future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who
has 333 career wins.
Lowe pitched his best ball of the season down the stretch, going
8-1 with a 2.39 ERA in his final 11 starts to help Los Angeles win
the NL wild card. Relying on his nasty sinker, he finished the year
16-8 with a 3.63 ERA.
The right-hander has had plenty of success in October, too. A
closer in Boston before he became a regular starter, he has a 3.05
ERA in 17 postseason games, including six starts.
Lowe also won the clinching game for the Red Sox in all three of
their postseason series in 2004, helping them to the first World
Series title in 86 years.
"The playoff season is his time of the year," said Dodgers
skipper Grady Little, who also managed Lowe in Boston. "We don't
know where we'd be without him."
In fact, the last time Little and Dodgers first baseman Nomar
Garciaparra appeared in the playoffs, they were trying to end the
Curse of the Bambino for Boston in 2003.
But Little left a tiring Martinez on the mound during an
eighth-inning comeback by the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series, and the Red Sox were eliminated in
Little was let go soon after, and Garciaparra was traded to the
Chicago Cubs the following July.
That fall, Lowe pitched Boston to the title.
Now, all three are key cogs on the revamped Dodgers, who lost 13
of 14 coming out of the All-Star break, then rebounded with a 17-1
stretch. They also dropped 12 of 20 before ending the season on a
seven-game winning streak.
"We've been a streaky club all season long. And we're on
another one of those good streaks right now," Little said.
"Everything's clicking. We're just ready to get this thing
Garciaparra is slated to play Wednesday despite a sore
quadriceps and an ailing muscle on his side.
"I couldn't tell you what hurts more," he said. "They all
feel good enough to go out there and play, and that's what I'm
New York left fielder Cliff Floyd has been hobbled by a sore
Achilles' heel, but is expected to start as well.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.