Ring in the Big Apple

NEW YORK – Royce Ring, pack your bags for the Big Apple. <P> Ring, a 24-year-old lefthander, was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk after Monday night's game and will join the Mets in New York Tuesday. To make room on the 25-man roster, lefthander Mike Matthews was designated for assignment.

"Royce has been throwing the ball very well at Triple-A," Mets GM Omar Minaya said. "He's continued from Spring Training to get lefties out, and we just felt a young guy should get a chance."

Ring, who came to the Mets from the Chicago White Sox in the July 2003 Roberto Alomar trade, was once billed as the Mets' closer of the future. His career took a downturn last season between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Norfolk, but Ring pitched his way back on to the Mets' radar with a 1.00 ERA in six appearances (9.0 innings) at Norfolk this year. He walked three and struck out seven.

Mets reliever Heath Bell spent the early part of April with Ring at Norfolk and reported that Ring has improved across the board from last season. Bell said Ring has shown a good slider and two-seamer to complement his already-good change-up, and that he has dropped his arm angle to become "nastier."

"Last year, he didn't really have his fastball," Bell said. "He was throwing like 85 [MPH]. Now he's throwing like 88 [MPH] and has his fastball back a little bit. He's learned to pitch.

"I told him when we got to Norfolk, 'Baby, just keep working out. You'll be here,'" Bell said. "A couple guys might come up before you, but you're going to get a chance."

Ring will be making his Major League debut when he appears with the Mets.

Matthews, 31, made the team out of Spring Training and was 1-0 with a 10.80 ERA in 5.0 innings pitched. He walked four and struck out two.

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