Notes: Valdez on the shelf

Marlins notes: Valdez on the shelf

NEW YORK -- Under the best-case scenario, Ismael Valdez will return to the rotation at the end of April.

Valdez, the Marlins' fifth starter, went on the disabled list Thursday with a hairline fracture just above the ankle on his right leg.

Until Valdez is ready to return, Brian Moehler will fall into the fifth starter slot. Moehler will now pitch on Tuesday against the Nationals in Washington.

General manager Larry Beinfest said the normal recovery time on a hairline fracture is two to four weeks. So there is a possibility the veteran right-hander, who didn't make the trip to New York, may be out until mid-May.

"An MRI revealed a hairline fracture on Wednesday," Beinfest said. "Maybe the end of the month, at the earliest [is the return date]."

Moehler has made one start, giving up two runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Nationals at Dolphins Stadium on April 9.

Valdez injured his leg on April 4 after being struck by a line drive while pitching to Minor Leaguers at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter. He is on the DL, retroactive to April 4, and is eligible to be activated on Tuesday. However, he is at least a few weeks away from being ready.

Moehler, who has successfully battled back from Tommy John surgery performed in May 2003, has been a pleasant addition. He was a non-roster invitee who made the team based on a strong Spring Training as an emergency starter and long reliever.

Riedling activated: Reliever John Riedling pointed out on Friday that he signed as a free agent with the Marlins to get out Major League hitters, not to test his shoulder against Minor Leaguers.

So with Valdez on the disabled list, Riedling was activated off the 15-day disabled list, where he was recovering from a bout of shoulder tendinitis.

Riedling got word that he was being activated on Thursday after he threw against Minor League hitters at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter.

"I'm ready to go," said Riedling, the former Reds setup man, who hasn't pitched in a game since facing the Yankees in Tampa on March 15. "They are paying me to pitch in the Major Leagues, not at the Class A level."

The team had considered giving Riedling a few rehab appearances, but those plans changed with Valdez's injury.

McKeon says that he will ease Riedling into action. The Marlins are carrying 12 pitchers. Riedling and Nate Bump are the primary candidates for long relief.

Remembering Jackie Robinson: Many years ago, Marlins hitting coach Bill Robinson was often asked if he was related to the great Jackie Robinson.

Aside from sharing the same last name, there is no relationship. Bill Robinson added that people still call him Frank Robinson, confusing him with the Hall of Fame slugger and current Nationals manager.

On Friday, Bill Robinson remembered the legacy of Jackie Robinson, who was honored by Major League Baseball on Friday. The great former second baseman has also been posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

"I think as far as being the first black man who ever played, that's what people should know, that he broke the color barrier," Bill Robinson said, "and all the things he had to go through to have a day like today. I'm just honored to not only have the same last name, but to be a black man and having Jackie Robinson being honored. It's long overdue."

Bill Robinson also notes that people should look past the color issue, and remember the player.

"He was just a darn good ballplayer," Bill Robinson said. "He was a guy who would do anything he could do to win a ballgame.

When you get over the color of his skin, people should remember how good a player he was -- and a winner. He won, no matter what he did. Other than having the perfect last name."

Homecoming for Leiter: Al Leiter will be the first to admit that this is not just another road trip. Visiting New York, where he played seven seasons with the Mets, is a little more sentimental.

One reason is that his children are still there, completing their school years. On Friday, the left-hander spent time with them.

   Al Leiter  /   P
Born: 10/23/65
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

"Sure, it's not going to be like any other road trip or going into any other visiting city," Leiter said. "Any time you've spent a significant amount of time anywhere in the workplace and you go back the first time, it's somewhat reminiscent."

Leiter, who will face the Mets on Saturday, says that his familiarity with the lineup could be a plus.

"I'll go through the scouting reports, but I know a lot of their guys, and it's a matter of executing pitches to exploit their weaknesses," he said. "I know how they hit. I know what they do. Now it's a matter of just doing it and not getting caught up in all the emotions around it."

While Leiter is in his second stint with the Marlins, he admitted that he originally had goals of becoming fourth on the all-time list of career Mets victories. Hall of Famer Tom Seaver is first at 198, followed by Dwight Gooden (157), Jerry Koosman (140) and Ron Darling (99).

Leiter departed the Mets with 95 wins as a member of the team.

"Prior to my two-year extension [with the Mets], my goal was to win 30 games -- 15 and 15 -- so I could be fourth on the all-time list behind guys I've rooted for. And one was my idol," said Leiter, who grew up admiring Seaver. "I won 15 in '03 and I certainly thought I was going to win [15] last year. So I was five wins short of a goal that kind of meant something to me.

"Growing up a Mets fan and knowing the pitchers on the list, it was something I really wanted to do. Plus, my whole family rooted for the Mets."

Leiter spoke to the media about his New York trip on Wednesday because he didn't want to be distracted on Friday. He will talk again publicly after Saturday's game.

"It's just another distraction," he said. "You talk about stuff that's useless. Rehash the past. It's kind of irrelevant."

Overall, Leiter is fond of his seven seasons with the Mets, with whom he went to the World Series in 2000.

"The time I spent there, the people I met and the enjoyment I got out of it was special, really special," he said.

Fish bites: Shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who tweaked his left hamstring while trying to beat out a bunt on Tuesday, was scheduled to start on Friday. But after warming up, Gonzalez was held out for precautionary reasons. Damion Easley started in his place. ... The bullpen, despite being 0-2, has a 1.19 ERA.

Coming up: Leiter, who is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA, squares off against his former team on Saturday. The Mets will go with Pedro Martinez, who is 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA. Leiter has logged 10 2/3 innings in his first two starts, and is coming off a 4-1 loss to the Phillies. Martinez is fresh off an impressive two-hit complete game win over the Braves.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.