Tatis' hard work paying off with Mets

Out of left field: Tatis unlikely hero for Mets

DENVER -- As a veteran of eight big league seasons, Fernando Tatis has learned how to create opportunities for himself -- and seize the ones handed to him by others.

Signed by the Mets to a Minor League contract during Spring Training of 2007, Tatis spent a year working his way back to the Majors. He was finally recalled on May 14, 2008, and with three Mets outfielders suffering injuries in a four-day span, Tatis found himself inserted into the outfield for Friday's game. It was just his fifth time playing outfield in the big leagues, but he homered in his first at-bat and earned his first start of the season on Saturday.

"I didn't expect it would happen the way it's happening right now," Tatis said on Saturday. "I wish I could have another opportunity without people getting hurt. I didn't play for a couple days, and to come to the plate the first time and hit a homer, it's a great feeling."

On all counts, it was a feeling Tatis hadn't experienced since the end of 2006, when he last played in the big leagues with the Baltimore Orioles. In the interim, he started working on his outfield chops, realizing that the more versatile he could make himself, the better chance he'd have at landing a job in the Majors.

"When I was in Baltimore, I wanted to learn [to play outfield], because I know something can happen," Tatis said. "In Triple-A, I played a lot of games in the outfield. When I was back in the Dominican, I played a lot of games in the outfield. I worked so hard in the winter. I took ground balls. I took fly balls in the outfield. And I'm seeing the results right now. When you work hard, you're going to see the results."

Both the work and the results made an enduring impression on manager Willie Randolph, and with Moises Alou and Marlon Anderson hitting the disabled list over the past three days, Randolph is counting on the 33-year-old veteran to step up and fill the void in the Mets' outfield.

"He'll have to," Randolph said of Tatis. "He's played a lot of positions in Triple-A this year, and he's done them all adequately, I guess. I asked him if he'd played right field, [and] he said yes. He's played some left field, played first, second, third. He does a little bit of everything. He has to be the guy. He has to get the job done."

Pitching matchup
NYM: RHP John Maine (5-3, 3.29 ERA)
It now appears the standard M.O. for Maine's opponents is to foul off pitches by the dozens in an effort to tire the Mets starter. Maine has thrown 325 pitches in his three most recent starts, covering 18 1/3 innings. His loss to the Braves on Tuesday was his first after four consecutive victories. He needed 99 pitches to achieve 12 outs.

COL: RHP Aaron Cook (6-3, 3.06 ERA)
Cook has lost two straight starts after winning a club-record six straight. He grasped for control during the first four innings of his last start, against the Giants, giving up four runs in the first four innings. But after a brief pointer from pitching coach Bob Apodaca to stay compact in his delivery, he pitched three strong innings to last through the seventh. He's trying to take that feeling into his next start.

Nick Evans' three doubles in his big league debut on Saturday marked the first time a player has had three extra-base hits in his first game as a Met since Kazuo Matsui hit two doubles and a homer on April 6, 2004. ... Luis Castillo's eighth-inning double extended his hitting streak to nine games. ... Jose Reyes singled and stole a base to lead off the game, giving him 24 consecutive games in which he reached base safely by hit or by walk.

This day in Mets history -- May 25
Some records are not meant to be broken. Tom Seaver set an enduring mark for the Mets on May 25, 1976, when he went six innings in an 8-4 loss in Philadelphia, giving up seven runs on 15 hits and three walks while striking out five. No Mets pitcher has allowed 15 hits in a game since. Dave Kingman and Jerry Grote both homered for the Mets against Philies starter Jim Lonberg, who went on to win, improving his record to 7-0.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• CW11

On radio
• WFAN 660, WADO 1280 (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Mets (Mike Pelfrey, 2-5, 5.00) vs. Marlins (Ricky Nolasco, 3-3, 4.62), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Mets (TBD) vs. Marlins (Andrew Miller, 4-3, 5.33), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Mets (Oliver Perez, 4-3, 4.53) vs. Marlins (Scott Olsen, 4-2, 3.38), 7:10 p.m. ET

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.