Notes: GM dismisses Cameron rumors

Notes: GM dismisses Cameron rumors

NEW YORK -- It was a protracted pause, long enough to prompt wonder, long enough to raise a question of doubt.

Omar Minaya was discussing the Mets' core players, those around whom the club intends to build its next run of success. He already had mentioned David Wright and Jose Reyes as a matter of course. And Minaya expects Carlos Beltran be in place when that run happens, so he included Beltran as well even though the Mets center fielder is an import.

Then came the pause ... long and telling.

The words "Mike Cameron" ended the pause. They also put an end to the chance of the Mets dealing Cameron to the Yankees for Gary Sheffield. Even before Sheffield effectively removed himself from the market with threats of civil disobedience expressed Wednesday in Balitmore, it was clear the Mets didn't want to deal Cameron.

"It's critical for us to keep our core group of guys together," Minaya said. "Let's try to fix it from the inside and then see."

Cameron may not be as much of a core player as Wright, Reyes and Beltran. Age and the specter of prospect Lastings Milledge denies him a place with other three. Minaya said as much in December, the day the Mets signed Beltran.

But that Minaya identified Cameron as any kind of core player-- "He's part of the team. I want to say that he's part of our core," Minaya later said -- indicated the Mets general manager wants to retain the veteran right fielder, that he wants Cameron to be part of whatever success the Mets have this season and next and, "We'll see after that."

The New York-New York exchange was broached at some point in the last five days. A person with the Mets acknowledged as much Wednesday after the back page of New York Post trumpeted the deal that, the person indicated, had been a product of the Yankees' fancy. "We're not trying to move [Cameron]," he said. "But you listen."

Minaya talked all around the reported trade talks Wednesday, never acknowledging any sort of package including the two veteran outfielders had been discussed. But in the course of his conversations with reporters, his high regard for Cameron was quite evident.

The GM and manager Willie Randolph clearly agree on Cameron and his importance to the Mets. Cameron's play has been the best ever by a Mets right fielder. His production, undermined by early-season rehab of his left wrist and subsequent problems with his right leg, has nonetheless exceeded expectation. He was batting .298 with a .536 slugging percentage, .399 on-base average, six home runs and 16 RBI in 178 plate appearances through Tuesday night.

Morever, Randolph embraces the energy and enthusiasm Cameron provides. The Mets have no other comparable source for those intangibles. Chances are Sheffield wouldn't provide them, even if he wanted to play for the Mets. He isn't that sort of player. And beyond all that, he is older than Cameron by 4 1/2 years, significantly more expensive and not nearly the baserunner or defender Cameron is.

But of course, Sheffield is a superior, dominant offensive player. The Mets don't have one of them.

Cameron preferred to say nothing about the report, even after he was had been told it wasn't happening. And Cliff Floyd, his buddy, said he was angered by the distraction, even though the Yankees wanting Cameron and the Mets being unwilling to deal him was a two-sided compliment.

"He just doesn't want that coming up now," Floyd said. "He wants it to go away."

Mets history -- June 30: Ron Swoboda is born in 1944. ... Sandy Koufax pitches the first of his four career no-hitters, beating the Mets, 5-0, on this date in 1962. It comes one day after the Mets work 16 walks from the Dodgers pitchers ... Ten years later, Tommie Agee hits his 11th home run of June, breaking Frank Thomas' mark of 10, set in 1962.

On this date in 1978, the Mets beat the Pirates, 6-5, at Shea. The final out of the game is at the plate, with John Stearns tagging out Dave Parker, who tries to steamroll the Mets catcher. Stearns keeps his mask on during the play, and Parker suffers a broken cheekbone. Parker had bowled over two other catchers in the the previous two weeks, injuring one. When the Phillies came to Shea in early July, they thanked Stearns for standing up to Parker.

Ron Darling hits a home run in his second straight start, in Cincinnati, on this date in 1989. He and Tom Seaver are only Mets pitchers to hit home runs in consecutive starts. ... The Mets tie a club record by scoring 10 runs in the eighth inning, rallying to beat Atlanta, 11-8, in 2000. Edgardo Alfonzo ties the score with a two-run single, and Mike Piazza puts the Mets ahead to stay with a three-run home run against Terry Mulholland.

On deck: Pedro Martinez. Need other words be said?

No matter what else happens, the Mets starting pitcher in the Thursday afternoon matinee will be a focal point. It's that way any time Martinez pitches at Shea. Martinez (8-2, including a victory against the Phillies May 2) opposes Jon Leiber (8-7) of the Phillies.

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.