Notes: Gonzalez pushed back for Soler

Notes: Gonzalez pushed back for Soler

Jeremi Gonzalez hesitates to admit it, but the flu could very well have been a factor in his poor performance against the Yankees on Friday night.

On a breezy, chilly night at Shea Stadium, Gonzalez coughed up a poor three-inning start in which he allowed four runs in the first inning. He was relieved one batter into the fourth after surrendering nine hits, three walks and six earned runs.

"It's no excuse. No, man, you can't ever use that as an excuse," Gonzalez said Tuesday. "Everybody has a bad game, that's what I think. But, that day I was sick. Real, real sick."

Gonzalez still appeared to be suffering Tuesday when manager Willie Randolph announced the Mets rotation for the remainder of the series against the Phillies. Alay Soler is to start Wednesday night, with Gonzalez expected to get the call on Thursday afternoon. Soler will be the ninth pitcher to start a game for the Mets this season.

His physical condition aside, Gonzalez said he, catcher Paul Lo Duca and pitching coach Rick Peterson have been working on some technical things that will help Gonzalez become a more effective starter.

"I'm gonna change my speeds, moreso off my fastball instead of my breaking ball," he said. "I came in here [Monday, on the Mets' day off] and threw in the bullpen. I feel real good, a lot better, and I feel the next time I will be more effective."

He was far more effective against the Brewers on May 13, giving up five hits and three runs with four strikeouts and no walks.

The addition of Soler could be disconcerting to him, but Gonzalez looks at it as adding another piece to the puzzle to help the team. He just wants to pitch.

"Every time I get the ball, I want to compete," Gonzalez said Tuesday night. "I need to go and get the job done when I'm out there and do what's needed for the team. That's what is most important."

It's a long story: The estimated distance covered by the mammoth home run David Wright hit against Aaron Small on Sunday night was 445 feet and prompted thoughts of two other home runs hit beyond the visitors' bullpen -- one by Mike Piazza and one by Dave Kingman. Piazza hit a three-run home run off Ramiro Mendoza of the Yankees on July 19, 1999. It struck the blue-and-white striped tent beyond the bullpen and was estimated at 470 feet. It gave the Mets a 7-6 lead in the seventh inning of a game they won, 9-8.

Kingman hit his on August 25, 1971, as a member of the Giants. The fifth home run of his career -- he made his debut July 30 of that year -- produced the lone run Jerry Koosman surrendered in a complete game victory. Its distance was estimated at 460 feet.

X-ed out: Right fielder Xavier Nady was removed from the posted lineup Tuesday because of stiffnness in his lower back. Endy Chavez got the start in his place.

982 and counting: The Yankees-Mets weekend series was one of distinction for this season: Pedro Martinez, who has 202 career victories, Tom Glavine (282), Mike Mussina (230) and Randy Johnson (268) started. No other series in history had four pitchers each with at least 200 career victories.

This date in Mets history, May 24: Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Stan Musial hit home runs in the Cardinals' 10-4 victory against the Mets in St. Louis on this date in 1963. Gibson hit four of his 24 career home runs against the Mets. Musial hit six of his 475 career home runs in merely 79 at-bats against the Mets. ... The Mets emphatically ended a losing streak at six games by sweeping the Phillies in a Sunday doubleheader in Philadelphia in this date in 1965, beating Jim Bunning and Chris Short, the starters Gene Mauch wore out the previous September during the great collapse. The winning pitchers were Warren Spahn and Frank Lary. Spahn's record was 4-4 after his complete game. He lost his next eight decisions before being released in July.

The Mets amassed 22 hits -- five by Rusty Staub, and four in the 19th inning, when they scored four times -- to beat the Dodgers, 7-3, in Los Angeles in 1973. The day game lasted five hours, 42 minutes. ... One year after Lee Mazzilli initiated a rally in the 10th inning that beat the Braves, 5-4, at Shea Stadium, he initiated a rally in the 10th inning to beat Bruce Sutter and the Cardinals, 3-1, in St. Louis on this day in 1981.

Ron Darling (six innings) and Rick Aguilera combined to shut out the Padres, 3-0, on eight hits in San Diego on May 24, 1989. Darling allowed four hits, three by Tony Gwynn, who batted .441 in 59 career at-bats against him. ... Three years later, David Cone pitched a no-walk, 10-strikeout four-hitter in the Mets' 6-0 victory against the Giants in Candlestick Park. ... With Bernard Gilkey and Carlos Baerga driving in three runs each, the Mets beat the Brewers, 8-3, at Shea in Mike Piazza's second game as a Met on this date in 1998. The Mets won their first seven games after Piazza's acquisition to run their record to 11 games over .500.

Coming up: Soler's big-league debut comes on Wednesday night against the Phillies. The right-hander the Mets have chosen in their latest effort to deal with their injury-depleted rotation opposes Jon Lieber, who replaces Cole Hamels. Hamels, 22 and left-handed, is the Phillies' primary pitching prospect and is said to have a killer changeup, but he returned to Philadelphia to have his sore shoulder evaluated.

Chris Girandola is an associate reporter for Staff reporter Marty Noble contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.