Piazza wants to 'take his time' before return

NORFOLK, Va. -- Mike Piazza might extend his minor league
rehabilitation assignment.

Piazza, who went 1-for-3 and caught six innings on Saturday
night in his third rehab outing with Triple-A Norfolk, has only
been able to hit in the batting cages beneath the right-field
stands because of the rain this week.

"I want to get my timing back,'' Piazza said. "I don't want to
be in a hole when I get back to New York. I want to take my time
and get my at-bats.''

The New York Mets All-Star catcher said those at-bats could come
at Norfolk on Wednesday and possibly beginning Friday at Double-A
Binghamton, if he doesn't feel comfortable at the plate.

The Mets put Piazza on the 15-day disabled list May 17 because
of a severely strained right groin.

"I am getting to what I feel like in the middle of spring
training,'' Piazza said. "Once I get 12 to 15 at-bats, we'll see
where I am.''

Piazza is 3-for-9 in three games with the Tides. In Norfolk's
5-4, 11-inning win over Richmond on Saturday, Piazza singled up the
middle in the fourth inning and grounded out twice. He was the
designated hitter on Thursday and caught four innings on Friday.

He did not play first base Saturday, a possibility that he had
talked about the day before.

The Mets tentatively planned to have Piazza in the lineup next
week against the San Francisco Giants.