Spin on the rotation: The first pitch of the Mets exhibition game season is to be thrown by Oliver Perez. The left-handed starter, a bit of a revelation last summer and the pitcher who most intrigues the Mets now, will start against the Tigers at Tradition Field on Wednesday afternoon in a rarity, an exhibition game in February.
Tom Glavine will start the following day, also at home, against the Cardinals, and Chan Ho Park gets the nod in the third game, against the Cardinals, Friday in Jupiter. John Maine starting Tuesday in the second intrasquad game may provide some insight into how the Mets see the rotation shaking out.
Jorge Sosa and Jason Vargas, also candidates for the rotation, will pitch as starters Monday in the first intrasaquad game. Philip Humber is the other starter Tuesday. Aaron Sele and Alay Soler are to follow Perez and Park.
The only rotation candidate not listed to pitch before Saturday is Mike Pelfrey. Willie Randolph said Saturday that Pelfrey is fine.
The only rotation candidate not listed to pitch before Saturday is Mike Pelfrey. Manger Willie Randolph said Saturday that Pelfrey is fine. "He'll probably pitch late in the week," the manager said. And Saturday night, Pelfrey said he is scheduled to start March 3 against the Dodgers.
A view from the other dugout: The Mets played the Dodgers three times last September and, of course, three times in the NL Division Series. Displaced in the Dodgers rotation by Greg Maddux, Aaron Sele appeared in one of the six games, pitching an inning. He had time on his hands, and, as Yogi said, "You can observe a lot by watching."
This is what Sele saw of the 2006 Mets.
"Obviously, they were very talented," he said. "Getting to within one game of the World Series showed that. And they looked like had a lot of fun. Lots of smiles. But they also were focused and very competitive. It wasn't just, 'Oh, we're having a good time.' I've been on some teams like that from 1998 to 2002, the Rangers, Angels and Mariners. They clicked together as people and when the bell rang, they played the game hard and right.
"I don't think a lot of people in the game realize how hard it is to put together a team like that -- with quality in the clubhouse and on the field."
A friend of a friend of a ... : The number of F.O.O. caps distributed in camp remains at seven. The red caps with that abbreviation -- it stands for "Friends of Omar" -- were purchased by chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon because, as he said, "It seems like everyone you meet here is a 'friend of Omar's.'"
General manager Omar Minaya is a popular guy. But his co-workers began to wonder.
"Jeff would ask, 'Is this one a friend?' and Omar would say 'Yes," Minaya's assistant, John Ricco, said. "But I'd do this [rejecting the 'friend' with a 'thumbs down.'] So it was pretty much left to Leonor Colon [Minaya's executive assistant] and me to determine who is and isn't."
Minaya is certain he has more than seven friends.
Furthermore: The pitcher most often characterized as intriguing is Joe Smith, the right-handed rookie who throws lower than sidearm. ... In the unlikely event Ruben Sierra wins a place on the roster and goes north, an endorsement deal may be waiting for him -- with Clorox. Sierra wears white -- head to toe -- each day.