Peterson's projects: Perez, Burgos

Peterson's projects: Perez, Burgos

NEW YORK -- Rick Peterson, the Mets' pitching coach, seldom moves through the team's Spring Training clubhouse at a leisurely pace. He always has some place to be, someone to see -- and, come February, someone to fix.

Peterson is the Mets' primary repairman. In a normal camp -- if there is such a thing -- he is tinkering with an arm slot, teaching a different grip or changing a pitcher's location on the rubber.

The camp that awaits his attention will not be normal. It will be overrun with challenges -- "projects" as former general manager Joe McIlvaine used to call them. The club has imported reliever Ambiorix Burgos, who often has no more control that a scarf-less hairdo in an open convertible. It still has some interest in Victor Zambrano, its primary project of the last three summers and a non-tender last month.

Moreover, there is Oliver Perez, who despite his surprise October, still has a resume that includes 138 walks in his last 215 2/3 big-league innings, Minor League assignments and some dreadful performances. And now the Mets are pursuing the poster child for the "great stuff/results lacking" syndrome: Jorge Sosa.

On the day the club acknowledged it had signed Perez to a one-year contract, a person familiar with the Mets' recent dealings confirmed the club is close to signing Sosa, the 29-year-old right-handed pitcher who surrenders home runs at a higher rate than Ryan Howard hits them.

Suffice it to say, Peterson won't be fishing often or playing much golf.

Perez, who agreed to a contract worth $2,325,000, and Burgos, the reliever acquired from the Royals in December for Brian Bannister, are the most likely of the four to win positions on the 25-man roster. Zambrano remains unsigned, and Sosa remains a question mark.

Sosa split last season between the Braves and Cardinals. He produced a 3-11 record and 5.42 ERA in 45 appearances, including 13 starts with the Braves, and 118 innings. He allowed 138 hits, 30 of them home runs, and 40 walks while striking out 75. One of the home runs came at Shea Stadium on April 17, courtesy of Carlos Delgado, who had a history of using Sosa as a piñata. Delgado hit a solo shot in the second inning, his seventh homer in what then was 28 career at-bats against Sosa. Five of the seven had come in successive at-bats.

"Maybe we should have Carlos work with [Sosa] instead of Rick," a club official suggested Friday.

Sosa has four years on Perez, while Perez has his playoff start and being a southpaw on Sosa. Their numbers last season were uncomfortably comparable. Perez had a 3-13 record and 6.55 ERA in 22 starts and 112 2/3 innings with the Padres and Mets. He had a 1-3 record and 6.38 ERA in seven starts with New York. Perez's one victory was a five-hit shutout of the Braves at Shea on Sept 6.

With Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez on the disabled list, the Mets turned to the 25-year-old lefty to start Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals. He became the second pitcher with a regular-season record 10 games under .500 to start a postseason game. Perez helped the Mets win, 12-5, allowing two runs in the first four innings and five runs and nine hits over 5 2/3 innings overall.

Then he allowed one run and four hits in six innings in Game 7, leaving with the score tied at 1, the beneficiary of Endy Perez's brilliant catch in the sixth inning. The Mets lost the game, 3-1.

Martinez is expected to miss at least the first half of next season because of shoulder surgery. So Tom Glavine and Hernandez lead the rotation, with Perez, John Maine, Jason Vargas, Philip Humber, Dave Williams and -- who knows? -- maybe Sosa competing for the other three positions.

Club updates: Perez had been eligible for salary arbitration. Chavez and reserve catcher Ramon Castro, the only other eligible Mets, filed Friday. ... The Mets remain close to signing free-agent reliever Scott Schoeneweis to a three-year contract.

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