Byrdak aims for game by weekend

Tim Byrdak, who is recovering from March 13 surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee, aims to throw off a mound for the first time on Wednesday. He hoped to be in a minor league game by Friday, but had not yet run that by pitching coach Dan Warthen.

"Even the day after the surgery they said, 'Wow, it looks great,'" Byrdak said.

Byrdak said he still gets some swelling -- "a natural thing," he said -- from the knee all the way down to his left foot. He said the inflammation currently is in his left ankle.

Byrdak is unlikely to be ready on Opening Day on April 5, but because disabled list stints can be backdated 10 days into spring training, he could miss as little as the first series.

"I mean, it was such a cool surgery, I guess Chipper wanted to have it now," quipped Byrdak, referring to Chipper Jones, who is due to undergo the same procedure today.

Meanwhile, the primary alternative to Byrdak as lefty specialist appears to have dodged a bullet. Garrett Olson arrived in the clubhouse Monday morning and said the bruise to his left palm, which he suffered in a Double-A game Sunday, was minimal. Olson even expected to toss a baseball Monday. X-rays were negative.

"Where?" lefty reliever prospect Josh Edgin asked Olson at their lockers.

"Just right here," Olson replied, pointing to the meaty portion of his palm, where a mark was barely detectable. "Just a bruise."

Olson said he instinctively reached with his barehand for a comebacker, rather than reach across his body with his glove to field the ball.

"It wasn't a line drive," Olson said. "It just hit the meat of the hand. They just wanted to be cautious. I stopped the double play, unfortunately, but got the out at first."

Especially if Byrdak's absence is going to be minimal, Olson seems like a safer bet than Edgin to make the Opening Day roster as lefty specialist. Once Edgin is placed on the 40-man roster, even if he's not seen again until September or beyond, he essentially is on for the remainder of his Mets career, whereas Olson's 40-man roster spot can always be freed up since he is relatively disposable.

Jason Bay also dodged a bullet. Bay was struck in the right forearm Sunday by a fastball from Stephen Strasburg and had it wrapped with a compression bandage Monday morning. But Bay did not require X-rays and was comfortable enough to do a crossword puzzle with that hand/arm.

"It's obviously a little sore, but not bad," Bay said.

"I thought his arm was snapped in half," Ike Davis said, half-seriously, given the velocity on Strasburg's fastball.

Scott Hairston (oblique) hopes to be in a minor league game Tuesday and Grapefruit League game Wednesday.

Andres Torres (left calf strain) said he felt "really good" and hoped to be cleared to begin running Monday.