Notes: Sanchez unlikely for Opening Day

Notes: Sanchez's season to have late start

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Two weeks later, Duaner Sanchez is bound to be late again. General manager Omar Minaya said Sanchez has made what he called "important" progress since his tardy episode two weeks ago, but he all but precluded the chance of Sanchez beginning the season on the active roster.

Sanchez's workouts now include throwing from in front of the mound and extended long toss which are prerequisites for his return to off-the-rubber pitching. That return may happen this week. Batting practice and perhaps a simulated game will follow before he pitches in a game, probably in extended Spring Training.

Sanchez injured his right shoulder and subsequently underwent surgery following a taxi cab accident in Miami last summer.

Tighter: The Mets returned from their only off-day this spring with a better brand of baseball. Tighter is the word Willie Randolph used the other day. And he evidently used the word in a brief chat he had with his players before their game against the Orioles on Tuesday night.

It turned out to be a tighter performance and a 6-1 victory, the Mets' seventh victory in 22 games. The game came replete with some signs of greater intensity -- Jose Valentin stretching a hit into a triple, Carlos Beltran throwing out a runner at third base with an off-balance throw, Beltran cutting off a hit to alley and Mike Pelfrey make in a nice play -- a barehanded catch -- when he covered first base.

Way down yonder: Brian Chicklo -- the trainer for the Mets' Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs affiliate -- handed John Maine printed documents Monday and laughed. They were a guide to housing in the Big Easy which will not be Maine's residence come April. Maine's public stance is that he doesn't know where he'll begin the season. And Minaya and Randolph play the game, too -- as if the Mets have options.

Well heeled: Aaron Sele spends no energy handicapping his chances to win a position on the Opening Day staff.

"I've got other things to think about," he says, namely three daughters, none of them yet 8 years old.

He knows expenses are in the offing.

"I have a college fund. I have a wedding funds," Sele says. "And I have a shoes fund."

Spring Training
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There is crying in baseball, after all: Orioles closer Chris Ray hit David Newhan in the back, close to his right arm, on Tuesday night.

"But he got me on the meat," Newhan said. "Not on the elbow. If that guy hits me there, I'm crying. I'm not that tough."

Rave reviews: Former Mets general manager Joe McIlvaine now scouts for the Twins, and the Mets are one of "his teams." He filed a report off the Mets' simulated game Monday and, in it, characterized Aaron Heilman's changeup as "world class."

Furthermore: The Mets are looking to add a catcher -- not necessarily to the big-league roster -- in case Sandy Alomar Jr. doesn't accept a Minor League assignment. They also hope to find a reserve shortstop with more pop than Anderson Hernandez. ... Ruben Sierra is gone. The Mets granted him his release and indicated if the 41-year-old slugger didn't a job elsewhere -- his agent is pursuing one -- they would have interest in bringing him back to serve as Minor League instructor. ... Former center fielder Omar Moreno, who played with Randolph in the Pirates' system in the 1970s and knew Rick Peterson from those years, visited camp Tuesday. He said he saw something -- a focus -- in Randolph even then that suggested a managerial career in baseball might be in the offing. Moreno was also Randolph's Yankees teammate in the 1983, '84 and '85 seasons.

Up next: Spring Training heats up Wednesday night in Vero Beach when the Mets will use three of their four hardest throwers against the Dodgers -- Oliver Perez, Ambiorix Burgos and Lino Urbaneta. Brad Penny starts for the Dodgers in the 7:05 p.m. game.

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