Originally created 09/23/99

Mets notebook: Franco is seeking first playoff berth



ATLANTA -- John Franco is a dubious major league record-holder, one that should end in two weeks. The Mets left-handed reliever has baseball's longest tenure without making a playoff appearance.

"It's been a long time, hasn't it," the Brooklyn native said. "I'm tired of watching them on TV."

The second closer to reach the 400-save plateau may finally get his October wish as New York appears ready for at least a wild-card entry.

This has been somewhat of a trying season for Franco, as a sprained flexor on the middle finger of his throwing hand forced him to the disabled list for two months. In his time away, Franco watched Armando Benitez thrive in the closer role.

Since returning Sept. 4, Franco has been used primarily in a set-up role, the third southpaw in the Mets bullpen. His appearance Tuesday night was his sixth since the injury, none coming in the ninth inning and none in a potential save situation.

"There's not much I can do about it now," said Franco, second on the all-time save list behind Lee Smith. "All I can do is wait for the phone to ring and hope they call my name. It's not about pride right now. It's about getting to the playoffs. That's most important than who's getting the saves right now."

REMEMBER ME?:

With all the stars dotting the Mets roster, you tend to forget they have Bobby Bonilla, one of five players with a World Series ring, coming off the bench.

Bonilla's pinch-hit double Tuesday was just his second hit in eight at-bats since returning from the disabled list Sept. 1. Traded to the Mets from the Dodgers for Mel Rojas, Bonilla has been one of baseball's major disappointments, finding himself twice on the injured list thanks to creaky knees.

On the DL since July 4, Bonilla watched Roger Cedeno take his job and rookie Benny Agbayani become somewhat of a cult hero in New York. He's been vilified for being stubborn about playing time.

Bonilla's 115 at-bats this season are the fewest of his career.

"I think he's growing comfortable with his role," manager Bobby Valentine said. "That doesn't mean he's happy with it, it's just that he's comfortable. He knows what we expect from him."

Said Bonilla: "I'm not the one to say what my role is or what it isn't. Right now, I'm just an extra bat."

SILKY SMOOTH:

Flashy shortstop Rey Ordonez last made an error June 13 against Boston, a current span of 88 games that is the National League's longest for that position in a single season. He's had 351 total chances in that span, 110 putouts and 241 assists.

Ordonez errorless stretch eclipsed that of former Mets shortstop Kevin Elster.