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Henderson joins Mets coaching staff

Henderson joins Mets coaching staff

NEW YORK -- The impatience -- and relative lack of productivity -- of Mets hitters seemingly led to impatience with hitting coach Rick Down. New York has dismissed Down and added Rickey Henderson to the coaching staff, though Henderson's role has not yet been revealed.

It appeared that Howard Johnson, the current first-base coach, may assume most or all of Down's responsibilties, but it remained to be seen which titles would be bestowed upon Henderson and Johnson and exactly how much each of them would be involved in working with the hitters.

Other changes were in the offing Thursday, and two were implemented. Julio Franco was designated for assignment. Meanwhile, the club activated Lastings Milledge, following an extended convalescence from a sprained foot and an abbreviated sequence of appearances in Minor League games. The only change that has not yet occurred is having Oliver Perez rejoin the team for a start Sunday in the final game against the Reds.

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Removing Franco from the roster allows the club to add Milledge. Either David Newhan or Sandy Alomar, probably Newhan, will be demoted when Moises Alou returns -- a move not on the immediate horizon.

Dave Williams, who needs to pitch regularly, is likely to be sent down when Perez, now recovered from lower back pain, ends his assignment on the disabled list.

Williams' demotion would afford Mike Pelfrey at least one more chance to gain his first 2007 victory. Winless in seven decisions, but improving, Pelfrey is in line to start against the Padres in San Diego on Monday. His time in the big leagues may be short-lived, though, because Jorge Sosa (hamstring strain) is expected to end his DL assignment after making one rehab start, probably in the next five days.

All of those possibilities and probabilities were to be discussed at Shea on Thursday, when general manager Omar Minaya and his staff reassemble following the All-Star break.

The coaching job is Henderson's first in the big leagues since his retirement -- a retirement he prefers not to acknowledge -- following the 2003 season. At age 48, he still has designs on playing again. Now, at least, he will be in uniform, No. 24, every day.

Henderson had served as a Spring Training instructor and special, short-term in-season instructor last year and this year, his presence a by-product of his relationship with Minaya.

His primary responsibilities had been to work with Jose Reyes and other basestealers on their baserunning. But he also dealt with patience at the plate. He had been considered a positive influence on Reyes, who has increased his on-base percentage from .271 in 2004, to .300 in 2005, to .354 last year to .387 this season.

Johnson joined Randolph's staff this year, having been successful and popular as a coach in the Minor Leagues.

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

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