Notes: Randolph tinkers with lineup

Notes: Randolph tinkers with lineup

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Two years ago, Willie Randolph had it in mind to bat David Wright eighth. It never happened. Wright batted second in the Mets' exhibition game against the Indians on Monday. Don't expect that to happen once the regular season begins. But it could.

Randolph used his third baseman in the second position in an order that included eight regulars and Julio Franco as the designated hitter. Paul Lo Duca, who batted second almost exclusively last season, batted sixth behind Moises Alou.

Randolph's reasoning was to get Wright as many at-bats as possible.

"He's not making the trip [to Kissimmee, Fla., on Tuesday]," the manager said. "So, I wanted him to get an extra swing if he could."

And Wright said Randolph told other regulars he might do the same during the 34-game exhibition schedule.

At the same time, though, Randolph considered some of his regulars interchangeable. Jose Reyes can bat leadoff, second and third; Lo Duca second, third and seventh; Carlos Beltran second or third; Carlos Delgado fourth and fifth; Wright second, third, fourth and fifth; Alou fourth, fifth or sixth and Jose Valentin, second, sixth, seventh or eighth.

And there will be days when some regulars, notably Lo Duca and Alou, don't play. Randolph said he isn't experimenting, but he is storing away what he sees for those days of rest.

"Someone has to bat everywhere," he said. "And we have so much flexibility."

High praise for Reyes: It isn't only the plays Jose Reyes makes that distinguish him defensively, but also the plays he almost makes. The Mets shortstop didn't make a play in the fourth inning Monday. A ground ball hit by Jason Michaels bounced past Wright at third, Reyes somehow caught and threw the ball to first in one motion, almost as if he redirected the ball.

Michaels was safe -- Delgado, perhaps not anticipating a play, was off the base -- and the run he scored proved decisive in the Indians' 2-1 victory. And oddly, a play not made prompted talk of Reyes' chance to win a Gold Glove.

"It's a good bet he'll win one," Randolph said.

Omar Vizquel has won the last two National League Gold Gloves for shortstop.

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Randolph also said Reyes could bat .340 if he bunts more.

It must have been a day to placate Reyes with praise. He's supposed to make the long trip to Fort Myers, Fla., on Wednesday.

Furthermore: Orlando Hernandez will make his first spring start Thursday against the Orioles, not Wednesday when the Mets make a 5 1/2-hour round-trip to play the Red Sox in Fort Myers. El Duque -- whatever age he is -- isn't a good candidate for extended trips, not with his arthritic neck. The Wednesday starter is to be Chan Ho Park instead -- if his visa issues are solved. ... Dave Williams, five weeks removed from surgery for a herniated disc in his neck, has shed his neck brace and begun low-strain exercises.

"Just baby-stepping for a while," he said.

Exclamation point: "I felt like I hadn't been on the mound since October." -- John Maine, on his pitching performance Sunday against the Orioles, his first start since Oct. 18

Coming up: The Mets will take on the Astros on Tuesday in Kissimmee, Fla., at 1:05 p.m. ET. Tom Glavine returned to camp, having spent two days at home for personal reasons. He is to start for the Mets opposite Woody Williams.

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