Mets Notebook: Remember Maine

Now that it has been officially announced that John Maine will step in Wednesday afternoon for Orlando Hernandez, at least the Mets have a little history to go on. Exhibit A: The July 21 contest against the Houston Astros at Shea Stadium.

Heavy rains had fallen before the game, which El Duque was originally scheduled to pitch.

Less than two hours before game time, Mets manager Willie Randolph instead decided on using Maine, hoping to protect El Duque's veteran body and recalling a specific incident with the Yankees when Hernandez did not react well to repeated stop-and-go procedures during a rain delay.

With Hernandez pushed back a day, Maine made it work, pitching a four-hit shutout against Houston and notching his first National League victory.

After that game, Maine glowed how he hadn't had "much chance to think about the hitters" and how it had helped his performance; by the time 4 p.m. rolls around Wednesday, Maine will have had significantly more time to think about the Los Angeles Dodgers' lineup.

Still, he was confident at his clubhouse locker - albeit a little surprised - after the Mets' workout on Tuesday. One reporter asked him how Maine thought it might feel to pitch Game 1 of the NL Division Series.

Maine's face broke into a wide grin and he said, "Awesome. I never would have thought it would have been a possibility. I'm available whenever."

Duque speaks: Newsday's Ray Sanchez got a hold of Hernandez both before and after having an MRI performed on his calf. The Newsday report describes Hernandez as limping badly as he left the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, saying, "This is not good," but then feeling more optimistic after returning home and icing the calf.

The Mets announced Wednesday morning that Hernandez had suffered a tear in his calf and would be unavailable for the NLDS roster. Lefty Oliver Perez - the likely starter in NLDS Game 4, if necessary - and Royce Ring were added.

Lineup: Randolph announced his starting lineup, sans pitcher, for Wednesday's NLDS Game 1 – Jose Reyes, Paul Lo Duca, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, David Wright, Cliff Floyd, Shawn Green and Jose Valentin.

Roster moves: Oliver Perez has been informed he will be on the Mets' postseason roster, the New York Daily News reports. Perez pitched in the Mets' season finale on Sunday at Washington, holding the Nationals to one run and five hits over four innings.

Closer talk: Mets closer Billy Wagner is authoring a column for the New York Post through the Mets' playoff run. In his Game 1 exclusive, Wagner says that Wednesday represents a "must win" game, and also throws in a home-spun line about a one-legged duck swimming in circles.

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