Setting a reconstructed windup into motion for the first time this spring, El Duque threw all three of his pitches Wednesday in a 45-pitch bullpen session just outside the walls of Tradition Field. He spent most of the morning tinkering with his once-famous leg kick, the quirky motion in which he pulls his knee up nearly to his chin.
With his new windup in place, El Duque only kicked his knee slightly above his waist before delivering pitches on Wednesday. The discrepancy allowed him to push off the mound with his right foot flat on the ground -- normally, he pushes off his toes -- which in turn diffused pressure from the bunion that's been nagging his right foot.
El Duque was quick to label the change a success for his health, even if he wasn't quite convinced of its overall effectiveness.
"When I throw in the game, please, everybody, cross their fingers," Hernandez said. "Help me."
Most of his bullpen session was spent tossing soft breaking pitches across the plate, as manager Willie Randolph, pitching coach Rick Peterson and Mets COO Jeff Wilpon observed amid a huddle of other coaches. El Duque never pushed his velocity, concentrating more on the mechanics of his new windup.
"I'm feeling better," Hernandez said. "I'm not feeling pain. The problem with before is I started my windup with my toes. There was a lot of pain for my bunion. I did it different before. Now, no more."
Randolph said El Duque could pitch in a game as early as this weekend.
Setback: Ryan Church experienced a recurrence of concussion symptoms on Wednesday, and he was unable to participate in baseball activities.
"Not a good day," Church said. "Yesterday, I felt fine. Today, not so much."
Church experienced a number of dizzy spells, prompting him to visit a neurologist late Wednesday afternoon. He participated in pool and treadmill workouts on Tuesday, but won't be cleared for baseball activities until he can remain free of symptoms for consecutive days.
And another: Duaner Sanchez remains on a relaxed throwing schedule, taking as many days between outings as needed to rid his body of what the Mets call "normal" soreness.
Sanchez hasn't pitched since Friday, and Randolph didn't expect him back until this weekend at the earliest.
Much better: Johan Santana was markedly happier with his second Spring Training outing on Wednesday, in which he allowed only one run over three innings. He spent more time throwing offspeed pitches earlier in the count, after the Cardinals repeatedly jumped on his first-pitch fastballs on Friday.
"We're not going to go crazy," Santana said. "We know it's not Opening Day yet. That's the day that we have to be ready for. We still have to work."
A cyst for Wagner: Doctors removed a cyst from the base of the neck of Billy Wagner on Wednesday. No problem developed.
"It didn't bother me when it was there. It didn't bother me when they cut it out," Wagner said. "But now [hours after the procedure], it feels like they took out an organ. I can pitch. But if I stink, I've got the built-in excuse."
Out of character: A baseball card with an unfamiliar face was stuck behind the name plate above Aaron Heilman's locker Wednesday. Upon further inspection, the image was that of Scott Schoeneweis. "You can't tell it's him," Wagner said, "because he's smiling."
Mets bits: Ruben Gotay was sporting a protective boot on his sprained right ankle, while he continued to await more specific results of Tuesday's CT scan. ... Carlos Delgado fielded grounders and hit off a tee on Wednesday. He plans to hit live batting practice on Thursday. ... The Mets flew Minor League starter Jason Vargas to see a specialist in Philadelphia on Wednesday after he felt discomfort in his left hip. ... Olmedo Saenz, who had been prohibited from playing because he hadn't been granted a work visa, received one and made his Grapefruit League debut on Wednesday. ... Tradition Field, then named Thomas J. White Stadium, opened 20 years ago Wednesday.
Coming up: After deferring his first turn in the rotation to further prepare for the upcoming season, Pedro Martinez will finally make his Spring Training debut for the Mets on Thursday night against the Nationals. He'll start opposite right-hander John Patterson in a 7:05 ET game in Viera, Fla., with Wagner and Heilman also scheduled to pitch for the Mets.