K-Rod available, but Putz gets night off

K-Rod available, but Putz gets night off

NEW YORK -- The Mets' level of preparedness for the two games against the Phillies varies somewhat from position to position. The bullpen wasn't as strong as it might have been because of a misplay in Atlanta on Tuesday night, and the starting pitcher, Johan Santana, may have been too strong.

Those curious scenarios were in place as the Phillies made their first appearance at Citi Field on Wednesday night, four nights after a rain-shortened weekend series in Philadelphia. Hours before Santana faced Jimmy Rollins and the Phils, Mets manager Jerry Manuel suggested the bullpen might be without J.J. Putz as well as Francisco Rodiguez because of extra outs the Mets' infield defense had afforded the Braves during Tuesday's 4-3 victory.

Second baseman Luis Castillo muffed a ground ball -- it bounced through his legs -- in the eighth, and first baseman Carlos Delgado dropped a routine popup in the ninth. Each error extended the inning and the workload of the Mets' two primary relief pitchers. Indeed, Rodriguez was forced to throw 26 pitches, six more than he might have following Delgado's two-out misplay. But according to pitching coach Dan Warthen, Rodriguez would be available for the ninth inning Wednesday.

Putz threw 19 pitches, four more than he might have following the one-out error by Castillo. Warthen indicated the setup man, so effective against the Phillies on Friday and Saturday, was not available.

Manuel might have been exaggerating to make a point. He was displeased with the sloppy play.

"It was his feet. It had nothing to do with his glove," the manager said of Castillo's fourth error. And he hardly condemned Delgado, who, unlike Castillo, never has won a Gold Glove. Manuel was asked whether Delgado should have used two hands on the popup, as almost every defensive player did into the early 1970s.

Manuel, in turn, bounced the question to Keith Hernandez, who won 11 Gold Gloves at first base.

"You should always use two hands," Hernandez said, surprising Manuel.

Manuel said he was unsure what to expect from Santana, who was starting for the first time since last Wednesday in the final game of the previous homestand. Six days off between starts is two more than usual.

"Six days for a guy who was on a roll might be a little much," the manager said. "But it might [create] some pitch reserves that we haven't had to call on so far."

Santana averaged 102 pitches per start in his first five starts, throwing more than 104 once -- 109 last week. But Manuel suggested the extra rest -- and the likely absence of Putz -- would necessitate Santana throwing as many as 115 pitches.

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