Notes: Fast times for Milledge?

Notes: Fast times for Milledge?

LOS ANGELES -- There is more than one way for a coach to get his point across, and more than one place to do so. Howard Johnson is the Mets hitting coach -- officially and as permanently as any coach. But that doesn't prohibit Rickey Henderson from his expertise.

So it was early Sunday afternoon in the Mets clubhouse. Henderson was looking over the lineup as Lastings Milledge approached. Milledge was the No. 2 hitter du jour, and Henderson momentarily experienced a touch of jealously. "I always wanted to see what it would be like to see all those fastballs you'll be seeing today," Henderson said.

Batting after Jose Reyes and before Carlos Beltran has its advantages, of course.

"Fastball, fastball, fastball," Henderson said. "You may be able to get yourself one, Mill, if you don't get too big," which was to say no need to swing hard at fastballs.

"If one of my teams had a guy as fast as me," Henderson said, "and let me bat two. Oh my. ... My, oh my. I'd have myself a few more [home runs]."

Easley's father passes: The Mets determined they have no options regarding Damion Easley.

Though his time assigned to the bereavement list expires Monday, they cannot assign him to any other list or have him play in the Minor Leagues. He must rejoin the team or the Mets must play a man short until Easley returns.

Easley's father, Raymond, 63, died Saturday night following a lengthy illness. Easley had been assigned to the bereavement list Tuesday.

The club prefers that he play some games in the Minor Leagues, but there was no provision for that. An uninjured player is not eligible to participate in the rehab program.

Manager Willie Randolph called Easley "a very strong, very spiritual young man" and said Easley "will be back when he gets back." But GM Omar Minaya said Easley may be back Tuesday or shortly thereafter.

Added support? Randolph said he has no plans to ask Minaya to make a particular move because such matters are not in the jurisdiction of the manager. And every indication is that the Mets will make no move for a run producer, but will try to reinforce the bullpen. Minaya said Saturday he doesn't intend to seek a replacement for disabled second baseman Jose Valentin.

But after the game Saturday -- a loss that turned, to some degree, on the inability of second baseman Ruben Gotay to turn a double play -- a veteran player said, "I'm sure they were saying, 'We'll be OK at second base, we'll be all right.' But then they were saying, 'Ya know, maybe we should take a look.' "

This date in Mets history -- July 23: For the 17th and final time, the Mets lost to the great Sandy Koufax on this date in 1966. He was the winning pitcher in the Dodgers' 6-2 victory in Los Angeles. The Mets would beat Koufax for the second and final time five weeks later at Shea Stadium, knocking him out in the third inning. The five earned runs the Mets scored in two innings that date put Koufax's career ERA against them -- 20 starts -- at 1.44. ... One night after a genuine, nasty brawl in their 14-inning victory against the Reds, the Mets completed a three-game sweep, winning, 3-2, behind Ron Darling and two-run home run by Kevin Mitchell in the eighth inning on this date in 1986.

The Mets scored 17 runs in a doubleheader and were swept on this date in 1996. They lost, 10-7 and 11-10, to the Rockies in -- where else? -- Coors Field. ... Three years later, the Mets traded Terrance Long to the A's for Kenny Rogers, who would win five of six decisions in 12 starts but who would throw the pitch -- a bases-loaded Ball 4 to Andruw Jones of the Braves -- that eliminated the Mets from the National League Championship Series in their first postseason run in 12 years.

Coming up: After a day free of baseball Monday, the Mets play the Pirates for the first time this season on Tuesday. John Maine pitches for the Mets, and Ian Snell starts for the Pirates in the 7:10 p.m. game at Shea Stadium.

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