Notes: Lima, Gonzalez remain in rotation

Notes: Lima, Gonzalez remain in rotation

ST. LOUIS -- The perceived need for Brian Bannister to make a start in the Minor Leagues before returning to big-league duty has forced the Mets to retain the rotation they have used since Victor Zambrano went down on May 6. As a result, Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez will be the Mets' starting pitchers on Thursday against the first-place Cardinals and Friday against the Yankees, respectively.

Manager Willie Randolph announced the Mets' extended rotation on Tuesday, before his team was to begin its three-game series in the Cardinals' new home, Busch Stadium III. The Mets said during Tuesday's game that Bannister, assigned to the disabled list on April 27, the day after he suffered a strain of the right hamstring, will make a rehab start on Thursday for Triple-A Norfolk when the Tides host Toledo.

"I don't think it's fair to rush a young player into a situation," Randolph said, speaking of Bannister. "It just makes smart sense to take a young player [and] not rush him, when you've got options. Whether you like the options or not, it doesn't really matter. To me, it would be a panic kind of move to rush him back after pulling a hamstring and put him in a situation."

Instead, the Mets will start the two veterans who, in three starts combined, have allowed 13 runs in 14 2/3 innings and not won. Bannister made five starts and the Mets won three of them.

Surprised, but ... The Mets had no inkling that Victor Zambrano would require reconstructive surgery -- aka Tommy John surgery -- on his right elbow. But Dr. David Altchek found damage to Zambrano's medial collateral ligament when he opened the elbow to reattach the flexor tendon to the bone.

However, the Mets believe the recovery/rehabilitation period will be no longer than originally estimated because of the additional damage found. Zambrano probably will be closing in on his 32nd birthday -- August 6, 2007 -- by the next time he can pitch in a big-league game. And there is no guarantee that opportunity will come while he is in the Mets' employ.

This date in Mets history, May 17: The Mets were shut out by the Giants in a doubleheader at Candlestick Park on this date in 1964. The 6-0 and 1-0 losses were two of six shutouts they suffered in a 19-game sequence that included 13 losses. The Mets scored 31 runs in two of the six victories and 31 runs in the other 17 games. ... The late John Milner drove in three runs, and Gary Gentry pitched a four-hitter in the Mets' 12-2 victory against the Expos at Shea Stadium on this date in 1972. ... Two-years later, Tom Seaver, troubled by his 1-3 start, pitched a five-hit, 13-strikeout, no-walk shutout against the Expos at Shea.

Jerry Koosman hit the second of his two career home runs, off John Montefusco, and Buddy Harrelson drove in three runs for the sixth and final time in his career in the Mets' 8-1 victory against the Giants at Shea on this date in 1977. ... On this date in 1988, David Cone put his record at 5-0 with 12 strikeouts in seven shutout innings in the Mets' 1-0 victory at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. The Mets scored in the seventh on a single by Keith Hernandez, the last stolen base of his career, an infield out and a wild pitch.

Steve Trachsel allowed four home runs and seven runs in the third inning of the Mets' 15-3 loss to the Padres at Shea in this date in 2001. His record at 1-6 after eight starts, Trachsel accepted a demotion to the Minor Leagues after that game. Upon his return to the big leagues, he won 10 of 17 decisions. ... A year later, Trachsel faced the Padres again, this time in San Diego. And he surrendered a home run to his first batter, D'Angelo Jimenez. But the Mets won, 13-4, behind Trachsel and four RBIs from Mike Piazza.

Coming up: The second game of the three-game series at Busch III. Trachsel starts for the Mets, opposite Mark Mulder, the third left-handed starter the Mets have faced in their last four games. They faced merely five in their first 35 games.

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