Missing in action
Piazza held out of Game 3 because of injured thumb
Posted: Saturday October 09, 1999 12:52 AM
Mike Piazza (left) took a shot on his ailing thumb in the third inning of Game 2. AP
NEW YORK (AP) -- In a startling shakeup for the New York Mets, All-Star catcher Mike Piazza was out of the starting lineup for Game 3 of the NL division series against Arizona on Friday night because of an injured left thumb.
Todd Pratt was to take the place of Piazza. The best-of-5 series was tied at one each going into the Mets' first home playoff game since 1988.
Piazza missed a game Sept. 18, a day after being hit in the thumb of his glove hand by a foul tip off the bat of Philadelphia's Ron Gant. Piazza may have hurt himself again Wednesday night in Game 2 against the Diamondbacks on a tag play at the plate.
Pratt said on the trip back to New York, he talked with Piazza.
"I knew he was hurting," the reserve catcher said. "He told me it was sore. I knew there was a chance I would be playing. I know it's not feeling right or he'd be in there."
Pratt said he was excited by the chance to start but was trying to keep things in perspective.
"I come to the park every day knowing there's a chance I might play," he said. For me, it's another game, a chance to give Mike another day's rest. That's what I think of it as."
Piazza hit .303 with 40 home runs and 124 RBIs this season. He played the first two playoff games against Arizona and had two singles in nine at-bats.
During Thursday's off-day, Piazza went for X-rays, which were negative. But his thumb did not appear any better when he arrived at Shea Stadium on Friday afternoon.
"He came in today and showed us a rather ugly looking situation," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "It was swollen and he couldn't bend it.
"I think it's been a continuation kind of thing," Valentine said.
About three hours before game time, Valentine said Piazza would try to take batting practice. Valentine still held out slight hope Piazza might be able to play, but did not sound encouraged.
"I think it would hamper his hitting and the catching could aggravate it," he said.
"The thumb is the most important finger for a catcher," Pratt said. "You feel it every time you catch a pitch. It absorbs a lot of pressure."
Benny Agbayani was listed as the cleanup hitter in Piazza's place against Arizona's Omar Daal. Pratt was to bat seventh. "Obviously, you can't replace Mike Piazza in the lineup," Mets pitcher Al Leiter said. "Hopefully, he'll be ready tomorrow."
Pratt hit .293 with three home runs and 21 RBIs in 140 at-bats this season.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.