A taste of the Mets

A taste of the Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- In a Mets camp that has been mostly serene and routine, Sunday certainly was the most stirring day. Spoons replaced bats, bowls were used in place of balls. And Paul Lo Duca abandoned his chest protector in favor of an apron.

The Tigers have Sheff. On this day, the Mets had chefs. Pots and pans, rigatoni and rolling pins. When, on Friday, Pedro Martinez said, "I miss stuff like that, actually feeling part of what's cooking here," was this what he was talking about?

Before a muscle was stretched Sunday morning, the Mets were more about recipes than rundowns and other training camp staples. Sunday was "Photo Day," a day of opportunities for media outlets to update their libraries. But apart from that business, members of the Mets' marketing and public relations departments directed players and coaches to a room adjacent to the clubhouse and had them pose for photographs to be used in a planned publication -- a Mets cookbook.

A pinch of Pelfrey, a dash of Delgado and a smidgeon of Smith. Heat to the temperature of a Burgos fastball, let simmer and stir every 30 minutes.

It all made for an entertaining morning. Most of the guys walked in smiling and walked out laughing. Grab a chef's hat -- Duaner Sanchez substituted a red bowl -- and some utensil and say "cheese." On this day, cheddar wasn't a nickname for a good fastball, and hot dog didn't refer to Willie Montanez.

"Smile" the photographer said when Jose Reyes posed. Was that directive really necessary? Better to remind a bird to fly.

Lo Duca poked his head into the room. "Are you kiddin' me?" he said. But he eventually returned and posed with a pot of pasta. "Sure, the ItaIian gets the rigatoni," he said.

Aaron Sele posed with an ominous-looking knife.

"This probably wouldn't be a good shot to show up in a New York paper," he said.

Shawn Green and David Wright posed with rolling pins held as bats. Carlos Delgado stretched for a throw, using an oven mitt as his first baseman's glove. The ball was a vegetable.

Tom Glavine posed with the same one.

"You want me to throw a changeup with a pepper?" he asked in wonder.

"Make them chase it," Rick Peterson, his coach, said.

Who said big leaguers don't play pepper anymore?

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"I'm not very versatile in the kitchen," Wright said, admitting pizza is his standing preference but that he has learned to "grill up some chicken."

Glavine said he can grill burgers, dogs and an occasional steak without being charged with arson. But his indoor work at the stove in limited to boiling water. "I'm real good at that, though," he said.

"Only for you," Delgado said, feigning resistance to Leonor Colon, Omar Minaya's assistant, who was tying the apron strings for those who couldn't. He looked so natural on his chef's hat.

Philip Humber looked as if he knew his way around a Cuisinart. Oliver Perez tied his own apron. And Ruben Sierra clearly had seen the inside of kitchen previously. He even has a sandwich named after him, doesn't he?

Sanchez almost always wears his baseball cap askew. He wore the chef's hat perfectly straight.

"Food is serious business," he said.

Not for all. Juan Padilla, who does magic with playing cards, unveiled another talent. He juggled three peppers -- even with the photographer asked him look at the lens. Aaron Heilman juggled just as well. But he still didn't make the rotation.

The morning went off without a hitch, though Billy Wagner wasn't abundantly willing. One near mishap did occur. Carlos Beltran accidentally sliced through a pepper without a comfortable margin for error for his other hand. No worry. The first cuts of Spring Training still are forthcoming.

Proceeds from the book in which the collected recipes will appear will be given to charity. The book may be entitled "Gour-Mets," as was one the club produced in the early 1980s, when Frank Howard was a Mets coach.

Howard, 6-foot-8, 315 pounds at the time, had an insatiable appetite. It wasn't uncommon for him to order an enormous breakfast, consume it, summon his waitress and say simply "Ma'am ... Do it again."

Aware of Hondo's eating prowess, former Mets vice president Jim Nagouney suggested this recipe be included in "Gour-Mets" under Howard's name:

"Slaughter a herd of beef. Season to taste."

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