Notes: Soler to make debut, but when?

Notes: Soler to make debut, but when?

NEW YORK -- It is undecided who will pitch when, but Mets manager Willie Randolph has made a decision regarding Wednesday and Thursday's starters. The Mets will go with Jeremi Gonzalez and Alay Soler, but Randolph didn't say Sunday which pitcher would start against the Phillies on Wednesday.

Gonzalez had a good performance in his first start for the Mets, May 14 in Milwaukee, but he was ineffective against the Yankees on Friday, allowing four runs in the first inning and six runs over three. Randolph qualified the assignment several times, saying, "For now, he's going to start."

He did say -- though he said it was unofficial -- that Soler will make his big-league debut in the other mid-week start against the Phillies. Soler, who defected from Cuba, has a 1-0 record and a 2.75 ERA in three starts with the Binghamton Mets. The 26-year-old right-hander has 16 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings this season with the Mets' Double-A affiliate.

No mention was made of 2005 top draft pick Mike Pelfrey, who had a short start -- two unearned runs, two hits and three walks in two-thirds of an inning -- for Binghamton on Saturday night in his ninth professional start.

Randolph chuckled when he was asked whether Gonzalez's next start would be his final attempt to secure a starting job.

"The rotation's staying the same," he said. "We'll make a decision on [Soler and Gonzalez] sometime on Monday or Tuesday. But, no, it's not one of those cases."

Randolph, however, emphasized the Mets' need for pitching now, and he made it clear that he and general manager Omar Minaya talk on a fairly consistent basis regarding the issue.

"Pitching's hard to come by," Randolph said. "But, right now, we're sticking with guys within the organization. We've talked about the possibility of acquiring a pitcher through a trade, but there really isn't anything out there right now."

When the Mets do call up Soler from the Minors, they will have to move a player off the 40-man roster, and most likely it will be Anderson Garcia. Garcia was recalled from the Triple-A Norfolk to help relieve the bullpen after Jose Lima was designated for assignment after Friday's game.

Randolph ruled out starting Darren Oliver and Aaron Heilman.

And, as far as Lima is concerned, if no team acquires him by Friday, then he will be given the choice to be assigned to the Minors.

This is why: Billy Wagner had pitched against the Braves on May 5, against the Brewers on May 12 and 13 and against the Yankees on Friday night. He had thrown 49 pitches in 14 days. He had pitched on consecutive days merely four times in the Mets' first 41 games, and three of those instances happened in April.

He needed work.

The closer on a team that anticipates being in a pennant race must be able to pitch on successive days during the gun lap. And the only way to be prepared for that sort of duty is to pitch on successive days earlier in the season.

If Randolph had used Duaner Sanchez to pitch the eighth and ninth innings against the Yankees on Saturday, Sanchez might not have been available to pitch Sunday night. And there was no guarantee Saturday afternoon that Heilman would be available Sunday night after pitching three innings Friday night.

Wagner had thrown merely 12 pitches Friday night. Randolph figured if Wagner threw 20 on Saturday, he wouldn't be available Sunday. As it turned out, Wagner threw 31 on Saturday and said Sunday he could pitch again.

Coming up: After a day off Monday, the Mets will begin a three-game series at Shea Stadium against the Phillies on Tuesday. Steve Trachsel will start for the Mets, opposite Philadelphia righty Gavin Floyd. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Chris Girandola is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.