Notes: Lineup shifts around Lo Duca

Notes: Lineup shifts around Lo Duca

ATLANTA -- Willie Randolph revised the Mets' batting order again Thursday, making modest changes that didn't affect Paul Lo Duca.

The Mets' catcher batted fifth for the second straight game and the fourth time this season. Lo Duca has now batted in a position other than second 18 times, as many times as he has batted second. And this comes for a player who batted second in all but three of the 121 games he started last season.

Randolph says he never has considered Lo Duca an ideal No. 2 hitter and also indicated the No. 2 assignment went to Lo Duca because no one else was better suited for that slot.

Through Thursday night, when Randolph had Endy Chavez bat second against the Braves, David Wright and Chavez had batted second 10 times each; Damion Easley had done so four times; and Carlos Beltran, Ruben Gotay, Shawn Green and Jose Valentin had batted second once each. No other spot in the order had been used by so many players.

"All our hitters can hit in different spots,' Randolph said. "If you're a hitter, you're a hitter."

That said, Randolph did profess a preference for Lo Duca batting second because of his abilility to hit with two strikes and to extend at-bats in critical situations.

"He can hit with two strikes; a lot of hitters can't," Randolph said. "He can make adjustments [within an at-bat]. A lot of hitters don't."

In order: Green, mistakenly identified as a right-handed hitter on the quite unofficial lineup sheet posted in the clubhouse Wednesday night, was back to being fully left-handed on the posted sheet Thursday. He also was back to batting seventh after a one-day assignment as the No. 2 hitter. Carlos Delgado, after "the best four at-bats I've had all year" on Wednesday night was batting sixth again, despite a strong history against Smoltz.

Something to say: Beltran is to make special guest appearances on ESPN Deportes' Beisbol Esta Noche (Baseball Tonight) for the remainder of the 2007 season. A native of Manati, Puerto Rico, Beltran is to be featured on a monthly segment titled "Esta es mi versión" (This is my version), in which he is to provide an insider's perspective on the hottest topics in the game. His first appearance is to air June 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

This date in Mets history -- May 25: Playing in his sixth game since the Mets acquired him from the Giants, Willie Mays delivered his third game-winning hit -- it came in his 21st Mets at-bat -- on this date in 1972. Mays singled off Dan McGinn with two outs in the 14th inning to provide the decisive run in the Mets' 3-2 victory in Wrigley Field. Jerry Koosman, the Mets' fourth pitcher, saved the victory for Tug McGraw.

Seven years later, it was a case of swung on and mist. After a routine fly ball hit by Joel Youngblood fell untouched in right field -- the Pirates right fielder lost the ball in dense fog -- umpires halted the game in the bottom of the 11th inning with the score tied at 3. After a 78-minute delay, the game was called.

On this date in 1980, Craig Swan pitched the seventh and final shutout of his career, a three-hitter against the Braves at Shea Stadium.

Six years later, Jesse Orosco produced the fourth and final RBI of his career with a sacrifice fly in the 11th inning in the Mets' victory against the Padres in Jack Murphy Stadium. The Mets scored twice in the inning to win, 4-2. Orosco batted 76 times in his record 1,252 games.

On this date in 2004, Steve Trachsel, Mike Stanton and John Franco combined to pitch a four-hit shutout of the Phillies in the first game after Tom Glavine's one-hit shutout of the Rockies. The Mets didn't pitch shutouts in successive games again until Sept. 6-7 last year, when Oliver Perez shut out the Braves and Glavine, Guillermo Mota, Roberto Hernandez and Aaron Heilman shut out the Dodgers.

This and that: Howard Johnson attended the high school graduation of his son, Glenn, in Florida on Thursday night, so batting coach Rick Down coached first base. ... Randolph said a roster move will be made Friday to accommodate Orlando Hernandez on the roster. Jason Vargas is likely to be demoted to Triple-A. ... The Mets' home game against the Giants on Tuesday night is to be carried by SNY and ESPN. ... Outfielder Caleb Stewart, named Player of the Week for the Double-A Eastern League last week, hit a grand slam Wednesday night in Binghamton's 5-2 victory against Connecticut. The B-Mets also turned a triple play. So is that a triple-double or a double-triple?

Coming up: Hernandez has been D-L Duque since April 24 because of bursitis in his pitching shouldering. Now he returns, pitching where he lives, Miami, against a team he has already beaten once this season. El Duque starts for the Mets on Friday night opposite the Marlins' Sergio Miltre in a 7:05 p.m. ET game that opens a three-game series.

El Duque had been disabled seven times previously in his career. His assignment in 2003 ran through the end of the season. In his other six "comeback" appearances, he made five starts, posting a 2-2 record in those five, and saved one game.

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