09/14/2003 12:10 PM ET
Notes: Garcia finding groove
Rookie second baseman has impressed Howe
MONTREAL -- Mets manager Art Howe said the reports he got on Danny Garcia indicated that he was the kind of player "that grows on you."
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
With very little prodding needed, Howe admitted that his young second baseman is growing on him despite suffering through some growing pains in the process.
"He doesn't do any one thing outstanding, but he plays baseball and he plays it well," Howe said.
Take Saturday night for example. Garcia hasn't exactly been ripping through opposing pitching staffs during his first two weeks in the Major Leagues. Yet he took Montreal's Javier Vazquez deep in the first inning of New York's 5-4 victory at Olympic Stadium. He later hustled on a sharp grounder to third. The Expos couldn't complete the double play due to Garcia's speed down the line, allowing the winning run to score on the play.
While his average stood at a less-than-robust .235 through 10 games, efforts like the one Saturday had left the desired impression.
"I like the fact that he seems to be able to put the bat on the ball," Howe said. "That's a strength. And as he gets stronger, those things [the homers] will happen."
Garcia doesn't plan on playing winter ball. He's headed back to California once the season ends -- he's played more games this year than at any other level he's been at -- to work out and put on some weight before next spring. He says he'd like to add about 10 pounds to his frame.
"I feel fine now, though," said Garcia, who was a fifth-round pick out of Pepperdine in 2001. "I feel energized up here. If you can't feel energized being in the big leagues then you're never going to feel energized. At least that's the way it is for me.
"I'm not trying to put too much pressure on myself this month. This month isn't going to make or break my career. It might jump-start my career but I'm not looking that far ahead. I'm just trying to enjoy myself because I definitely have an opportunity here."
That opportunity includes wedging Joe McEwing and Marco Scutaro out of the lineup since being called up. Garcia has been the main man at second base as Howe gives him a good look. And so far, Garcia has impressed. So far, he's growing on Howe.
Maybe, maybe not: Grant Roberts may fit into the team's plans as a closer someday but as of now, Howe doesn't think he'll be using the oft-injured right-hander on back-to-back days. While Roberts closed out Saturday's game for his first career save, Howe wasn't necessarily inclined to bring him back on Sunday, especially since he had warmed up earlier in the game before pitching to the final batter.
"Right now I feel like Roberts needs a day," Howe said. "He says he feels better if he gets a day off. Maybe it will be better in the spring."
As for the notion that Roberts would be better off as a starter -- it's a theory that's been bandied about since he went to the bullpen -- Howe shot that down as well.
"Considering his history, we can control his pitches better out of the bullpen," Howe said.
One thing is certain, though, when it comes to the team's closer. Howe won't be going with the bullpen-by-committee route next year. He said he likes the idea of having a single pitcher close games.
"I like it from the mental part so everyone knows when they are going to be called on," Howe said. "Now, it's harder mentally because you don't know when you're going to be called on. It's better for the whole psyche of the pen if they know what the pecking order is."
Let's play dress up: The Met veterans have an annual hazing of the rookies as they come through Montreal late in the season and this weekend was no exception. Each of the eligible rookies were required to wear a series of costumes from the clubhouse, onto the team bus and through Dorval Airport. That meant having to go through customs as well.
Jae Weong Seo seemed to be enjoying himself the most, dressed as an aging, overweight Elvis Presley in a jumpsuit and wig replete with big belly. Jason Anderson was Supergirl, Aaron Heilman was Snow White, Danny Garcia was Superman, Jeremy Griffiths was Scooby Doo, Prentice Redman was Spiderman, Dan Wheeler was Cleopatra and Jeff Duncan was Spongebob Squarepants.
Some of the costumes weren't as forgiving and provided for some potentially embarrassing moments. Matt Watson was Wonder Woman, Mike Glavine was an Arabian Princess, Edwin Almonte started out as the Little Mermaid but quickly discarded his bra and flippers for a she-devil outfit. First-year coach Nelson Silverio was decked out in a French maid outfit, including a blonde wig and fishnet stockings.
Even Seo's translator, Daniel Kim, was forced to wear a costume, donning a Michelle Pfeiffer cat woman outfit.
The festivities eased tensions in the clubhouse after a 7-3 loss to Montreal.
This and that: Mike Piazza was not in the starting lineup Sunday. Howe gave him the day off after Piazza fouled a ball off his foot Saturday night. Piazza, whose homerless streak stretched to 48 at-bats, was available to pinch-hit if necessary. ... Matt Watson, who got his second career at-bat on Sunday, is believed to be the first Xavier University product to reach the Major Leagues since Jim Bunning. While Bunning tossed a perfect game against the Mets, he never played varsity ball at Xavier. So Watson may be the first Musketeer ever to play pro ball. ... Ty Wigginton was hit by a pitch on the left wrist/hand in the second inning but shook it off and remained in the game. His hand was swollen after the game. "I didn't know what was worse by the end of the game, putting on my batting glove or swinging the bat," Wigginton said. ... John Franco made his 1,033rd career appearance, leaving him 17 games shy of Kent Tekulve for fifth on the all-time list. ... When Mike Glavine pinch-hit for Tom Glavine, it marked the second time this season that a brother pinch-hit for a brother. Benjie Molina pinch-hit for Jose Molina on June 21 when Anaheim was at Los Angeles.
Kevin T. Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.