Piazza: Surgery a 'last-ditch option'

NEW YORK -- Mike Piazza was placed on the 15-day disabled
list Wednesday because of inflammation in his left knee, leaving
the New York Mets without their best hitter as they try to stay on
the edge of the NL playoff race.

The move was made retroactive to Aug. 7. Piazza had an MRI exam
Tuesday and received a shot in his knee. He said it probably will
need to be drained.

"The doctor was careful because he said after catching for 13
years and even more in the minor leagues, they look pretty good.
But there is some wear and tear," Piazza said.

The 11-time All-Star is batting .276 with 17 homers and 44 RBIs
this season, but has slumped badly since the end of June.

"It was painful and it was obviously affecting me physically
and mentally," Piazza said. "I think everyone knows I've never
made excuses."

When asked if surgery was a possibility, he said: "Not at this
point. I think that's sort of a last-ditch option."

The Mets recalled infielder Danny Garcia from Triple-A Norfolk
to take Piazza's spot on the roster before Wednesday night's game
against Houston.

Piazza's knee has been bothering him since Memorial Day, when he
banged it into a fence in front of the dugout while making a
sliding catch in Philadelphia. He has been getting aggressive
treatment since but the knee has not improved, making it impossible
to run at full speed.

"When you're in a race and you hit the gas and you just don't
have the same power as other cars do, it's frustrating," he said.
"You get to the end of the rope a little."

Team trainers told Piazza the only way his knee will get better
is with rest and rehabilitation, and the risk for a serious injury
was greater if he kept playing on it.

The career home run leader among catchers, Piazza has started 41
games behind the plate and 48 at first base, where he was playing
when he got hurt. Elected by fans, he was the starting catcher for
the National League in the All-Star game last month.

One of the reasons the Mets moved Piazza to first base this year
was to try to keep him healthy -- but he keeps getting banged up
there. He missed a week in late July after he sprained his left
wrist in a collision while reaching for a wide throw.

The injury-depleted Mets, who entered the day 7½ games behind
Chicago in the wild-card race, were also missing starting pitcher
Tom Glavine, shortstop Kaz Matsui and infielder Jose Reyes.

"Obviously, the timing's not great," general manager Jim
Duquette said. "We've had worse adversity during the course of the
season ... and we've played through it and battled through it and I
anticipate we'll do the same thing."

Glavine lost his two front teeth in an automobile accident
Tuesday while going from LaGuardia Airport to nearby Shea Stadium
in a taxicab. Glavine also got stitches for a cut lower lip. He was
scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday night, but team
spokesman Jay Horwitz said the left-hander would probably come to
the ballpark to be examined by a doctor.

Duquette said he spoke to Glavine on Wednesday morning.

"He sounded good. Obviously, he was still banged up and was
hurting. But he sounded upbeat," Duquette said.

Matt Ginter started in Glavine's place against Roy Oswalt and
the Astros.

Matsui said his sore back was feeling a little better, but he
missed his second consecutive game. He is day to day.

Garcia was a late addition to the lineup at second base when
Reyes, slated to play shortstop, was scratched because of a sore
lower left leg.

Notes: Earlier in the day, Piazza was one of several Mets who
attended a packed memorial service at St. Patrick's Cathedral for
Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Murphy, who died last week.