Delgado hears WBC buzz

Delgado hears WBC buzz

Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado, who will represent Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, said there is more of a buzz about the international tournament in the Caribbean countries than in the United States.

While there is football, basketball and hockey in the United States right now, there is an obsession about baseball as the national sport in Puerto Rico.

"You don't see 162 games in San Juan," Delgado said. "This is their chance to watch big-league players in real games. ... This is a unique event because you're playing against teams you don't normally play against."

One such team is Cuba, which Delgado said is the mystery team, known by its collective reputation rather than by personalities.

"I'm not anxious to see them play good," Delgado said. "It will be interesting. They are fundamentally sound and know how to play the game. Non-professionally, Cuba is one of the best teams in the world."

Delgado is entering his first season with the Mets but doesn't anticipate that he will be hurt by leaving the team for the WBC during spring training.

"This is a very unique opportunity," Delgado said. "It is once in a lifetime and you have to make exceptions and adjustments. I am proud of being Puerto Rican, and we think this is a big deal."

The Puerto Rican team will train at Port St. Lucie, Fla., which Delgado said should lessen any impact of his lost time in spring training.

"If I was going to lose any time, I'll lose less than other players," Delgado said. "The first 10 days (of spring camp with the Mets), I'm going to go to work and be with my teammates."

NOTES, QUOTES

  • Former Mets C Mike Piazza signed a one-year, $2 million contract with a mutual option for an $8 million contract in 2007 with San Diego.

  • Think Bengie Molina is having second thoughts these days? The former Los Angeles Angels catcher rejected a three-year, $18 million contract offer from the Mets. New York filled its catcher need by trading for Florida's Paul Lo Duca. Molina ultimately agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal with the Blue Jays.

  • As of now, the Mets don't have interest in RHP Jeff Weaver, 29, who won 14 games for Los Angeles in 2005 but remains unsigned. Mets general manager Omar Minaya said the team would like to add a power arm to the rotation after the trade of RHP Kris Benson to Baltimore.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 376 -- Career homers as a catcher by former Met Mike Piazza, who signed with San Diego. Piazza is the career leader in homers by a catcher.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Pedro's been doing well. He's feeling really good." -- Mets general manager Omar Minaya on the status of RHP Pedro Martinez's strained right big toe.

    ROSTER REPORT

    ARRIVALS: INF Julio Franco (free agent from Atlanta), 2B Jose Valentin (free agent from Chicago White Sox), C Paul Lo Duca (trade from Florida), LHP Billy Wagner (free agent from Philadelphia), 1B Carlos Delgado (trade from Florida), 1B/OF Xavier Nady (trade from San Diego), OF Endy Chavez (free agent from Philadelphia), RHP Chad Bradford (free agent from Boston), RHP Duaner Sanchez (trade from Los Angeles Dodgers), RHP Steve Schmoll (trade from Los Angeles Dodgers), 2B Bret Boone (free agent from Minnesota), RHPs Jorge Julio and John Maine (trade from Baltimore), C Bobby Estalella (minor league free agent), RHP Jeremi Gonzalez (minor league free agent), RHP Jose Santiago (minor league free agent).

    DEPARTURES: C Mike Piazza (arbitration not offered, signed with San Diego), 2B Miguel Cairo (free agent, signed with Yankees), RHP Braden Looper (free agent, signed by St. Louis), RHP Roberto Hernandez (free agent, signed by Pittsburgh), C Mike DiFelice (arbitration not offered, signed with Washington), 1B Doug Mientkiewicz (free agent, signed with Kansas City), INF Jose Offerman (arbitration not offered), RHP Shingo Takatsu (arbitration not offered, OF Gerald Williams (arbitration not offered), 1B Mike Jacobs (traded to Florida), RHP Yusmeiro Petit (traded to Florida); minor league 3B Grant Psomas (traded to Florida), OF Mike Cameron (traded to San Diego), RHP Danny Graves (option declined, signed with Cleveland), INF Marlon Anderson (free agent, signed with Washington), LHP Felix Heredia (option declined), RHP Jae Seo (traded to Los Angeles Dodgers), LHP Tim Hamulack (traded to Los Angeles Dodgers), LHP Kazuhisa Ishii (released, signed with Yakult Swallows), RHP Kris Benson (traded to Baltimore).

    FREE AGENTS: INF Jose Offerman, OF Gerald Williams, LHP Felix Heredia, LHP Dae-Sung Koo, RHP Shingo Takatsu.

    ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE: No one.

    IN LIMBO: There have been continued rumblings that the Mets are trying to unload 2B Kaz Matsui.

    MEDICAL WATCH: No injuries of note to watch during the offseason.

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