Monday, May 29, 2006 BY DON BURKE Star-Ledger Staff
MIAMI -- Jose Valentin started at second base for just the second time this season yesterday as the Mets put in motion what would appear to be Kaz Matsui's slow ride to oblivion.
Manager Willie Randolph announced before the game that Valentin -- who hadn't started a game at second since 1994 before starting there May 18 -- and Chris Woodward would see more time at second base while Matsui, who is batting just .213 and has one hit in his past 18 at-bats, straightens himself out.
"If you produce, you get to play," said Randolph, who had said he would be willing to overlook Matsui's lack of offensive production as long as he continued to play solid defense and the team continued to win.
Yesterday, however, the manager said he'd now take things on a game-by-game basis and select his second baseman based on matchups. But Randolph was quick to point out that he considers neither Valentin nor Woodward a full-time player.
Randolph also said he and general manager Omar Minaya would likely discuss recalling Anderson Hernandez -- or even Jeff Keppinger -- from Triple-A Norfolk at some point.
"But we'll deal with what we have right now," he said.
Matsui said he understands.
"We fight as a team," he said. "This is not an individual sport."
Right fielder Xavier Nady also found himself tethered to the bench yesterday with Endy Chavez getting the start. Nady hadn't fared much better than Matsui in recent games with just four hits in his past 23 at-bats.
Randolph stressed that Nady was still his everyday right fielder.