Notes: Delgado may return Friday

Notes: Delgado may return Friday

MIAMI -- First baseman Carlos Delgado could return to the Mets' lineup as early as Friday after he felt good about hitting Thursday afternoon at Dolphin Stadium against Mets Minor League pitcher Jose De La Torre, who had been instructed to make it as difficult as possible on him.

"I'll have to see how I feel in the morning, but I think I'm getting close," Delgado said., who has been out since Sept. 4 with a strained right hip flexor.

Manager Willie Randolph had just digested that bit of good news when he had to make a late lineup scratch. Second baseman Luis Castillo, slated to hit second in the lineup, had to be replaced because of soreness in his right knee. Castillo was hit on the knee in a double play Wednesday night against the Nationals, but he shook it off and stayed in the game.

Ruben Gotay took over at second base and was moved to eighth in the lineup, while Lastings Milledge, scheduled to hit in that spot, was moved to No. 2.

As for Delgado, Randolph plans to have him take more live batting practice on Friday afternoon, then will make a decision on whether to play him in the 7:05 p.m. ET game that night. He said he would give Delgado plenty of input into the decision.

Marlins left-hander Scott Olsen is scheduled to pitch Friday, so it was suggested to Randolph that it might be wise to let the lefty-swinging Delgado make his return against a right-hander.

"I don't think that makes much of a difference," Randolph said. "It's more important when he feels he's ready to get back in there."

Delgado acknowledged being anxious to return to the battlefield, especially with the Mets working to wrap up the National League East title.

Asked why he thinks the Mets will regain momentum, Delgado said, "Because we're the best team in the league. We've been doing it all year."

Green sits for Yom Kippur: Veteran outfielder Shawn Green plans on missing the Mets' Friday night game against the Marlins to observe Yom Kippur, in which those of the Jewish faith usually fast from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday.

Green will not come to Dolphin Stadium on Friday.

This will be only the third time in 13 Major League seasons that Green has had to miss a game in deference to the holiday.

"I feel fortunate that I haven't had more conflicts," he said.

While a member of the Dodgers, Green missed a game on Sept. 25, 2004, against the Giants that had playoff implications. He also missed a game against the Giants on Sept. 26, 2001. That became big news, because he had played in 415 straight games, the longest active streak in the Majors at the time.

The Mets' Saturday game against the Marlins commences at 3:55 p.m. ET, but Green has told Randolph that he will be available to play. According to Mets publicist Jay Horwitz, that is in keeping with Green's tradition of missing one game during Yom Kippur, not two.

Green has been one of the Mets' hottest hitters of late. Three games into this latest road trip, he has seven hits in his last nine at-bats. He swooned in June (.182) and July (.255) and was hitting just .269 as late as Aug. 15. Since then, he has lifted his batting average to .288.

Green hit a home run in consecutive games to start the road trip. Entering Thursday's action, he is tied for 91st place with Mo Vaughn in career home runs with 328. Hank Greenberg and the Mets' Moises Alou are tied for 89th place just three homers ahead of him.

Lo Duca OK: Catcher Paul Lo Duca, hit in the knuckle area of his right hand as he swung at a pitch Wednesday night against the Nationals, initially was concerned about his status because of swelling in the hand.

"I was a little worried last night," he said in the Mets' clubhouse Thursday, "but it feels a lot better now."

After testing the hand, Lo Duca pronounced himself fit to play. Much of the swelling had gone down, but as a precaution, he secured a pad to wear on the hand that is similar to one worn by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who broke his right hand in July.

Lo Duca took about 25 practice swings and then did some throwing. He labeled the discomfort that he felt throwing "tolerable."

Lo Duca drew just as much media attention by shaving his head after the club's 9-8 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday night. He laughed that he had "everybody rub my head" to bring good luck on Wednesday, and presto, the Mets broke out of a slump with an 8-4 victory on Wednesday.

But then he grew serious.

"We've got to keep the pressure on," he said. "I've told the guys a million times, we can't take anything for granted. With one victory we haven't fixed anything."

Up next: Olsen (9-14, 6.06 ERA) will oppose Pedro Martinez (2-0, 1.69 ERA) of the Mets in the second game of the series at 7:05 p.m.

Charlie Nobles is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.