Manuel to decide on Livan by Friday
Mets weigh whether to drop struggling righty from rotation
PHOENIX -- Mets manager Jerry Manuel told Livan Hernandez that he will determine by Friday whether the veteran right-hander will be dropped from the starting rotation.That news was delivered when the two men met behind a closed door in the manager's office at Chase Field for about 20 minutes, hours prior to Wednesday's road-trip finale against the D-backs. Manuel said after Hernandez lasted just four innings in a 6-2 loss on Tuesday night that he wanted to "sleep on" the decision. He told Hernandez that he's still sleeping on it. Manuel said his choices are the 1-4 Tim Redding and the 1-2 Nelson Figueroa to fill that starting slot Monday night against the Giants at Citi Field. "I haven't made the decision yet, and I won't make that decision until Friday," Manuel said. "Livan is a guy that I have the utmost respect for. He's a guy who put a championship ring on my finger. We go way back, so I want to make sure that I have a sense of peace when I make that decision. "And I told him the same thing. I'm going to wait until after [Thursday's] off-day, and at that time, I'll let him know exactly what that decision is." Manuel was the bench coach under manager Jim Leyland when Hernandez helped pitch the Marlins to the 1997 World Series title. Manuel said that the pitcher took the news "fine," although Hernandez declined to discuss the situation when asked about it after he emerged from the meeting. Hernandez has really struggled on this 1-5 road trip. He lost, 8-3, on Thursday night at San Diego, as the Padres pelted him for five earned runs on seven hits. Now 7-7 after the back-to-back losses, he didn't make it past the fourth inning on Tuesday night, allowing all five runs on seven hits. Including Tuesday night's numbers, Hernandez has allowed 12 runs on 15 hits with seven walks in nine innings of work on the trip, not the kind of performances that instill confidence in a manager. After the game Hernandez said he was trying to be too perfect with his pitches. "I've got to say I'm sorry to everyone and go and say I'm sorry to Jerry, because I didn't pitch good today," Hernandez said. Manuel said that Hernandez did apologize during the meeting. "He basically apologized to some degree for the way he has performed," Manuel said. Manuel considered yanking Hernandez from the rotation when he lost four starts in row from June 23 to July 9, but determined that his other options just weren't that palatable. He was rewarded when Hernandez responded well in his three post-All-Star break starts, defeating the Nationals and Astros and leaving a loss to the D-backs in New York on July 31 having allowed only two runs on four hits in six innings. Hernandez wasn't the pitcher of record in that game. Now Manuel is at the juncture again, and the reason is simple. "We have to get good starting pitching to feel like we even have a shot at it," Manuel said.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.