Mets Battling Injuries
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Tuesday, May 1, 2007

With both Orlando Hernandez and Jose Valentin on the disabled list and Moises Alou looking as if his shoulder injury might land him there as well, the Mets have been forced to call up Ruben Gotay and Chan Ho Park from Triple-A New Orleans as replacements in an effort to keep the second place Mets, who are 5-5 in their past ten games, on pace with the first place Atlanta Braves.

If Park’s performance on Monday night is any indication however, the Mets and the former All-Star are doing to have to try a little harder.

With Jorge Sosa pitching marvelously in New Orleans this season, going 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA and only four walks in 32 innings, chances were that if there was an injury, he’d be the heir apparent to any rotation spot left open due to injury or ineffectiveness. The only problem in that grand scheme of things was that Sosa started for the Zephyrs on Sunday and obviously wasn’t available to pitch, forcing the Mets to call up Park, who hasn’t been solid in the Minor’s this season, going 3-0 with a whopping 7.29 ERA in just four starts.

Giving up seven runs in just four innings of work against the Marlins in his first start with the Mets this season, it’s likely that Sosa or someone else will get the next start. However, for the time being, the Mets have to be worried about Hernandez, who was pitching solidly for the Mets before he went down. With Hernandez injured, one has to wonder what the Mets next course of action will be.

“I don’t know the future,” Hernandez told the Daily News. “I feel a little pain, a little sore.”

While the Mets are equally unsure of what the future holds for them, chances are that Park, won’t be back until he’s proven himself in Triple-A.

If the injury to Hernandez wasn’t enough, the Mets are also going to have to deal with the absence of second baseman Jose Valentin for some time as well, who injured his right knee on Sunday against the Washington Nationals. Hitting .279 with 13 RBIs in just 20 games this season, the Mets are going to have to find a way to replace Valentin’s offense and veteran moxy for at least a few weeks. For the time being however, Valentin knows that this injury isn’t going to ruin his season and is going to do what it takes to make sure he comes back as healthy as possible.

"I'm not going to be crazy to try to work too much, try to come back earlier and then something worse happens," Valentin told MLB.Com. "I'm going to take my time, whatever it takes. The bottom line is that I'll be back."

Calling up the slick-fielding Ruben Gotay from New Orleans on Monday, the Mets will likely split the second base duties amongst Gotay and former All-Star Damion Easley, who has been impressive offensively in limited duty this season. The only question is, can the tandem of Gotay and Easley fill Valentin’s shoes for two-four weeks?

On paper, with Easley’s experience and hot bat [six hits in his past 10 AB’s] and Gotay’s impressive range and competence on defense, the Mets look to be able to weather the storm until Valentin is healthy enough to play again.

However, the jury is undecided if both Easley and Gotay can turn stats on paper into continued success on the field.