Originally created 09/22/99

Mets notebook: Rogers to test sore hamstring



ATLANTA -- Mets left-hander Kenny Rogers, who has evolved into the team's co-ace, will test his injured left hamstring today as he schedules to throw on the side.

Rogers, a steadying 5-0 in 10 starts since joining New York from Oakland before the trading deadline, injured his hamstring in the fourth inning Sunday while covering first base. He is not scheduled to pitch in the Braves series, and his status for his next start is still questionable.

"He said he could walk but he can't run," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "He's going to get a lot of treatment the next couple of days just to make his next start."

In 66 innings, Rogers has allowed 28 earned runs, with two complete games and a shutout. If Rogers isn't able to go against the Phillies on Saturday, rookie Octavio Dotel (8-2, 5.27) would get the call.

"Kenny's in my plans for his next start, but that may change after he throws," Valentine said.

NEW FACES: The Mets and Braves last met over the July 4th weekend, and since then, New York's roster has undergone somewhat of a transformation. New faces to this series include Rogers, bullpen arms Chuck McElroy and Billy Taylor, versatile Shawon Dunston and center fielder Darryl Hamilton.

Valentine cites Hamilton's addition, acquired from the Colorado Rockies with McElroy for Brian McRae, Rigo Beltran and minor-leaguer Thomas Howard, as having made the most impact. Hamilton is hitting .354 in 42 games with New York, 37 points higher in the Big Apple than in Denver.

"The change of scenery helped me," Hamilton said. "By the middle of the season, when we weren't doing well (in Colorado), it was tough to come to the ballpark everyday. Playing with these guys, in the middle of a pennant chase, it makes playing this game so much easier."

NO BIG DEAL?: The Mets, to a man, downplayed the significance of this three-game series and the next six out of 10 games against Atlanta. New York entered Tuesday's game one back of the Braves in the National League East.

"This is not do-or-die," Tuesday starter Rick Reed said. "The key is to get to the playoffs. It doesn't matter how we do it."

"We see this as the first game of the final 12 of our regular season," Valentine said. "I'd be surprised if we were more excited this series than usual. We've got 12 games to prove ourselves."

The Mets haven't played in the postseason since 1988.

REACH Rick Dorsey at (706) 823-3219 or rdorsey@augustachronicle.com.