Over in one corner of the New York Mets' clubhouse Thursday afternoon, a laptop computer sat on a chair. Apparently abandoned in the middle of a war video game, a robotic voice emanating from the tiny speakers kept repeating, "They've got me pinned down here! They've got me pinned down here!"
It could have served as the motto for the 2009 Mets, who opened a seven-game trip to San Diego and Arizona five games under .500 (51-56) and 10 games behind first-place Philadelphia.
Still wiping the red from their faces over the fiasco in which Tony Bernazard, the angry and vicious little assistant general manager, was fired and GM Omar Minaya lashed out at a reporter, the beleaguered Mets currently are dizzy from the spin of their injury merry-go-round.
Let's see, if today is Thursday, then. ...
Pitcher Jonathon Niese must be out for the season (complete tear of the right upper hamstring from the bone).
Shortstop Jose Reyes is expected to be out for the season (with what the club is calling "significant" scar tissue and inflammation behind the right knee).
Reliever Bobby Parnell will be moved into the rotation for a spot start Saturday night in San Diego.
And Mike Pelfrey (home with wife Angela as the couple was expecting its first baby on Thursday) will be pushed back to Monday's start against Arizona.
"It's half my day," manager Jerry Manuel says of his time spent talking with trainers and analyzing who's available and who isn't.
A couple of other Mets observations:
-- Even if Philadelphia (61-45) plays .500 ball the rest of the way and the other two teams ahead of them -- Atlanta and Florida -- play sub-.500 ball, the Mets (51-57) must go 39-15 the rest of the way to win the division. That's playing at a .722 clip. The Mets have never scored that high of a winning percentage. Their best came in their 1986 World Series championship season, when they compiled a .667 winning percentage during the regular season.
-- Oliver Perez now has his hair pushed up into a Mohawk, much like last October's Tampa Bay Rays. Oliver Perez should forget his hair and put that effort into his pitching. The Man Who Can't Control His Mechanics currently is averaging nearly the same number of walks per inning (0.96) than St. Louis' Joel Pineiro is walks per nine innings (1.0).
-- Perez's number of walks has exceeded his number of innings pitched in six of his 10 starts this season. he can make it seven of 11 on Friday night in San Diego.
-- New York starters rank 12th among the league's 16 rotations with a 4.65 ERA. With large contributions from Perez, nobody in the NL has issued more walks than the Mets' starters (264).
-- The Mets already have roughly $90 million committed for 2010 to just seven players: Carlos Beltran ($20 million), Johan Santana ($21 million), Oliver Perez ($12 million), Frankie Rodriguez ($11 million), David Wright ($10.25 million), Jose Reyes ($9 million) and Luis Castillo ($6.25 million)
Likes: New Padre Clayton Richard learned one key thing from his old White Sox teammate Mark Buehrle: Get the ball, throw the ball. He's a fast worker, which the fielders playing behind him love. I never will understand why more pitchers don't figure that out. ... If this is the secret to longevity, sign me up for some: Around 4 p.m. Thursday, three hours before he was scheduled to pitch for the Mets, a clubhouse guy delivered a hefty cheeseburger to Livan Hernandez, straight from the visiting clubhouse kitchen.
Dislikes: It's a sad, sad day when the Dayton Daily News decides to stop covering the Cincinnati Reds and the legendary Hal McCoy is, in his words, "put out to pasture." Hal has been covering the Reds since the Big Red Machine days of the 1970s and knows more about baseball than most of us ever will. He's pure class, always has been, and he's had a wonderful run. He says he's finished after this year, and I can't tell you how much I'm going to miss seeing him in press boxes around the league. Godspeed, good buddy. ... If you want to know more about Hal, here you go, a column from July, 2006, on the eve of his induction into the writer's wing of the Hall of Fame.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I got some groceries, some peanut butter
"To last a couple of days
"But I ain't got no speakers
"Ain't got no headphones
"Ain't got no records to play"
-- Talking Heads, Life During Wartime