NEW YORK -- Though Jerry Manuel has said he doesn't plan on starting recent callup Josh Thole behind the plate unless Rod Barajas needs Wednesday's day game off to rest, Thole is ready to show he's become a better defensive catcher.
Spring Training gave Thole a chance to work with many of the pitchers he will be catching in New York, and he said starting the season in Triple-A helped him greatly, because he had the staff all to himself.
"Fortunately, I got to work with some of these guys last year," Thole said of his brief 17-game stay with the Mets in 2009. "And that's why Spring Training is so important. [You have to] catch as many [bullpen sessions] as you can, because if this opportunity comes, you're ready for it."
Thole has worked on all facets of his defensive game, but receiving is an important area that often goes overlooked.
Framing hard to handle pitches, like low curveballs, and blocking balls in the dirt are things Thole feels much more comfortable with now.
"The biggest thing for me is just sticking the pitches, giving the umpire the best look at the ball, making everything look like a strike," Thole said. "That's what pitchers want to see, ultimately -- how many strikes can you get me."
Starting pitcher John Maine said he's seen a noticeable change in Thole since first throwing to him in his first start back from the disabled list last season.
"The improvements he made and the hard work he put into getting better at it, I could tell that he's a better catcher than when he first started," Maine said. "I applaud him for that, because he's put in a lot of hard work. He's a guy now that you're comfortable throwing to."
Carter brings power, discipline to Mets
NEW YORK -- The Mets have done their share of swinging and missing lately, but the newest member of the team didn't bring many K's with him from Triple-A Buffalo.
Chris Carter earned a promotion to the big club late Monday after tearing up the Minor Leagues for the past month, batting .336 and slugging .611.
Carter made an immediate impact on Tuesday, doubling in the go-ahead run during a sixth-run eighth inning in what turned out to be a rousing 8-6 victory over the Nationals.
But Carter doesn't provide power at the expense of contact. The left-hander whiffed just eight times in 123 plate appearances for the Bisons this season.
"I really pride myself on making contact, and I just focus on using my hands with two strikes instead of tensing up and trying not to strike out," Carter said. "Just relaxing. See the ball. Hit the ball."
The Mets have struck out 34 times in their past three games, something that has manager Jerry Manuel concerned.
"Strikeouts are one of those things that clog the machine, so to speak," Manuel said.
Carter hopes he can add a little oil to the team's stagnant offense.
"I hope I can bring a lot of hits, energy and just hard work," said Carter, who got to the field at 1 p.m. ET before the game's 7:10 p.m. start. "If I can help out in any way, I'm glad to."
Maine not enthused by windy days
NEW YORK -- Oliver Perez isn't the only Mets starter who doesn't like pitching in windy conditions.
Though John Maine, who allowed two runs over six innings in Monday's 3-2 loss, didn't succumb to the tough conditions the way Perez did when the lefty lasted just 3 2/3 innings Sunday against the Giants, the righty is hoping the weather will be better for his next home outing.
"I can't remember it being this windy," Maine said. "It just seems like now every day it's windy, and that's the bad part. I don't mind the cold when I'm out there. As long as I can grip the ball, I really don't care what the conditions are, but the wind just dries up the spit, the water, whatever you have on your hand. It just dries it up in a second, and that's [what's bad] about it."
The effects the recent windy conditions have had on the outfield -- turning home runs into routine fly balls and blowing paper from the stands onto the field -- are well documented, but the weather has been just as tough on the pitchers.
Maine said he feels his elevated pitch count (114) and walk total (four) were direct results of the strong wind. He said controlling a fastball is the toughest because it requires the least amount of fingers and a relatively light grip.
"You just can't grip the ball, it's like throwing an ice cube," Maine said.
This date in Mets history -- May 11
The Mets dealt pitcher Charlie Williams and $5,000 -- the number of zeroes is accurate -- to bring Willie Mays back to New York on this date in 1972. The Giants and Mets spoke of the trade, and Joan Payson, the Mets' owner and former partner in the Giants, wanted to return Mays to the city where he made his mark. But it is a newspaper report about the talks that created the final push. The great center fielder made his Mets debut -- as a first baseman -- three days later.
John Stearns and Steve Henderson hit home runs and Kevin Kobel and Skip Lockwood combined on a six-hitter in the Mets' 4-0 victory in San Diego on May 11, 1979. ... Three years later, Charlie Puleo pitched the only shutout of his career and Dave Kingman drove in four runs in the Mets' 6-0 victory against the Padres at Shea Stadium. ... Tom Seaver pitched the last of his 44 Mets shutouts, a five-hitter, on this date in 1983. The Mets won, 3-0, in the Astrodome.
Mookie Wilson, who had a .319 career average against Fernando Valenzuela, had three hits against the Dodgers starter, and Dwight Gooden pitched an 11-strikeout four-hitter in the Mets' 2-0 victory in Los Angeles in 1984. Gooden won another complete game opposite Valenzuela at Shea on Aug. 27 that year, lost to him at Shea on May 25 the next year, beat him with a third complete game on June 4, 1985, and pitched nine scoreless innings opposite Valenzeula in an 11-inning Mets victory on Sept. 6, 1985.
And on this date in 1999, Bobby Jones lost to Bobby Jones in the Mets' 8-5 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field. Explanation: The starting pitchers were right-hander Robert Joseph Jones for the Mets and left-hander Robert Mitchell Jones for the Rockies. The assignments that day made this the first game in history in which starters had identical first and last names.
Bobby J. Jones allowed eight runs in 5 1/3 innings, a performance consistent with his other work in the Mile High City. In his only start in Mile High Stadium, he allowed eight runs in five innings. And his career record in Coors was 2-2 in eight appearances, seven starts. But his career ERA there was 8.67. The Joneses became Mets teammates in 2000.
Worthy of note
Note to all: Keith Hernandez did not fall asleep in the booth the other night. If he had, do you really think SNY would have shown it? C'mon. Not everything that looks like a duck is a duck. In this case, there wasn't even a quack except for those who believed it. ... The latest development in the rehabilitation of Carlos Beltran is hardly a development at all. Beltran still isn't running regularly. But he has begun light jogging and has been cleared for limited baseball activity. ... If the Mets had any thought of eliminating Gary Matthews Jr. -- before or after his pinch-hit base hit Tuesday -- they had to rethink it because they have no other reserve center fielder available. Fernando Martinez isn't an option, at least temporarily, because of an injury to his left leg. ... Ryota Igarashi, on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, has been cleared to throw a bullpen session.
Kyle Maistri is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.