NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins spoke at length Friday afternoon of his plan to avoid pitching Francisco Rodriguez, using Jason Isringhausen's presence as justification for resting his closer.
Shortly afterward, however, Rodriguez began lobbying his manager to let him pitch. And when the Mets took a three-run lead into the ninth, it was Rodriguez -- not Isringhausen -- who came on for the save in the Mets' 6-3 victory over the Dodgers.
"I guess I won," Rodriguez joked.
Though Rodriguez gave his typical response -- "of course" -- when asked pregame if he was available to pitch, Collins said he would try to rest his closer following a 42-pitch, four-out save in Thursday's victory over the Giants.
"He's probably not going to pitch tonight," Collins said Friday afternoon. "With that amount of pitches last night, I'm probably going to give him the night off."
Resting Rodriguez, Collins said, is easier due to the presence of Isringhausen, once one of the game's most decorated closers. Idle since Tuesday's loss to the Giants, Isringhausen was available for a lengthy outing on Friday, if needed.
"That's what helps," Collins said. "It helps us a lot."
But instead, Isringhausen pitched a perfect eighth and Rodriguez handled the ninth, giving up a leadoff single and three deep flyouts. Though Collins said he would try to keep Rodriguez benched for Saturday's game, it's possible the closer will again lobby his manager.
It is worth noting that the Mets have been careful with their use of Rodriguez this season, using him in non-save situations four times and pitching him in back-to-back games just twice. If Rodriguez finishes 55 games this season, he will vest a $17.5 million option for 2011, severely limiting the Mets' financial flexibility next winter.
After Friday's save, Rodriguez was on pace to finish 51 games. By comparison, he finished 69 games with the Angels in 2008 and 66 with the Mets in 2009, and was on pace for a similar total last year prior to season-ending thumb surgery.
Wright understands pressure of hitting streaks
NEW YORK -- From afar, David Wright said, hitting streaks tend to look quite different.
"I think it's more important for outsiders than for the actual person doing it," Wright said in reference to Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier's hitting streak, which stood at 30 games after his first-inning single on Friday. "He's probably tired of talking about it, and he's probably tired of answering questions about it. But I'm sure he still wants it to continue."
It will be up to the Mets this weekend to prevent Ethier from extending his streak, the longest in the Majors this season. Wright, who set a Mets record with a 26-game hitting streak that spanned the 2006 and 2007 seasons, said the key for Ethier is simply to approach each at-bat as he normally would.
"I'm going to go out there tonight and try to get a hit every at-bat," Wright said. "That is no different if I'm on a 30-game hitting streak or if I haven't gotten a hit in 30 games. So it's weird, because it's not like you're trying something different or trying to do something that you wouldn't already normally be doing. It's very impressive, but to the individual that's doing it, it's almost a little weird. It's what you'd be doing anyway."
Wright held the Mets' record for merely five months in 2007, before Moises Alou set a new franchise mark by hitting in 30 straight games that September. The last time the Mets faced an opponent with a streak as long as Ethier's was back in 2006, when Orlando Hernandez, Darren Oliver and Pedro Feliciano combined to halt Phillies second baseman Chase Utley at 35 games.
Mets manager Terry Collins, for his part, said he would not pitch around Ethier late in games, chastising managers who employ that strategy. But Collins does plan to prey on Ethier's extreme lefty-righty splits if he can.
"In a big situation in the eighth inning, he's going to face a lefty," Collins said.
Thole gets back behind the plate in opener
NEW YORK -- Catcher Josh Thole returned to the Mets lineup on Friday night, following a two-game hiatus to clear his mind and work on his receiving. Neither he nor manager Terry Collins expected his defensive funk to continue.
"Truly, the best way to do that is to get back in the game, to get back in there and go catch," Collins said, noting that Thole called perhaps his best game of the season in starter Jon Niese's most recent outing.
"Confidence," Thole said, "isn't an issue."
Yet, regardless of performance, Thole is unlikely to start all three games against the Dodgers. Backup Ronny Paulino caught Sunday's pitcher, R.A. Dickey, in the bullpen on Friday for the second time this year, experimenting with the same slightly-sideways crouch that Thole employs for the knuckleballer."Getting better," was how Paulino described the session -- which should be enough justification for Collins to start Paulino against a tough left-hander, Clayton Kershaw, in Sunday's game.
"That's the guy I want him to face, for sure," Collins said.
LaCugna named Mets' Honorary Bat Girl
NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball announced Friday that Linda LaCugna of Manalapan, N.J., will be the Mets' Honorary Bat Girl for Sunday's Mother's Day game against the Dodgers at Citi Field.
MLB introduced the Honorary Bat Girl Contest in 2009 to recognize baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and have committed to fighting the disease, as well as to raise additional awareness and support for the league's annual Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer initiative.
A celebrity panel of judges and fans selected one winner for each of the league's 30 teams, in partnership with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. Players from all teams will also use pink bats in Sunday's games to raise awareness for the breast cancer cause.
The Mets have signed right-handed pitcher Brian Sweeney to a Minor League contract and assigned him to Triple-A Buffalo, the team announced Friday. Sweeney, 36, most recently pitched for the Independent League Somerset Patriots and last appeared in the Majors for the Mariners in 2010. John Franco and Edgardo Alfonzo were among a group of Mets alumni who greeted fans on Friday evening in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda at Citi Field. Bobby Parnell (numbness in right hand) will pitch for the first time in an extended spring training game on Saturday.