Hernandez will miss his next start Monday at Washington, and
manager Willie Randolph didn't say when he will return to the
rotation. The right-hander can run and throw but is having some
discomfort with the foot during his pitching motion.
"We'll just look at Duque as we move forward," Randolph said
Sunday. "But he's feeling a little sore so we're going to not push
it and hope that he'll be ready to slide in sometime soon."
The health of Hernandez, a terrific postseason pitcher, is a
major question for New York as it tries to wrap up a second
straight NL East title. He missed the entire postseason last year
with a torn right calf muscle.
The Mets' lead in the division has dwindled to 3½ games over the
Phillies, who beat New York 10-6 Sunday to complete a three-game
Hernandez was charged with six hits and a season-high eight runs
over three-plus innings in the Mets' 13-5 loss to Atlanta on
Tuesday. It was El Duque's first start in 12 days, and he said he
had a little pain in his foot the next day.
Hernandez got a cortisone shot after he gave up five runs and
six hits over three innings at Philadelphia on Aug. 30. New York is
9-2 in his last 11 starts.
"He says it doesn't bother him to run so that's good,"
Randolph said. "Obviously, it must have something to do with
pushing off or he has an unorthodox delivery, maybe it has
something to do with that but he says he feels it when he
Brian Lawrence will take El Duque's turn in the rotation against
the Nationals. Lawrence was scheduled to pitch for Triple-A New
Orleans on Saturday but the Zephyrs were swept by Sacramento in the
Pacific Coast League championship series.
"Two more days, I'm more than ready as far as time," said
Lawrence, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 7 against Nashville.
Lawrence went 1-2 with a 6.31 ERA in five starts with New York
before he was sent down Aug. 28 to clear up a roster spot for Endy