Monday, February 27, 2006

Floyd, Mets Get Ready for 2006 Season

Willie Randolph is four days away from putting names on an exhibition game lineup card and weeks away from identifying his regular-season batting order, much less committing to it. Yet Floyd is batting sixth. He's certain of it, even if the manager isn't -- just as sure as Billy Wagner is when he asks, "Does a one-legged duck swim in circles?"

Floyd has, as he said, "done the math," and his figures add up to him batting sixth, directly after David Wright, two places lower than Carlos Delgado and the position from which he produced most of his numbers in 2005. He not only is agreeable to the reassignment, but he sees his accepting it professionally as a means of delivering the message he considers critical to the team's chances of meeting its aspirations.

"I want my boys to say, 'He's about us,' when they talk about me," Floyd said. "That's the way it has to be if we're gonna win. It's not about where I want to hit; it's about which way the team will be better off."

"I want to win this year," he said, conceding he could be displaced in the left field by Lastings Milledge in 2007. "Whatever's best for us is what we do."

He and Wright have discussed the circumstances in private, and each has come away speaking only in the first-person plural.

"No one's going to be selfish," Wright said. "Not this year. We can have a special year with all the talent we have here."

Wright even suggested a scenario in which Floyd would bat third, followed by Carlos Beltran, Delgado and himself. That's not likely, either. "But that would be fine," Floyd said.

Carlos Delgado, at age 33, sees he may be in position to reach the postseason for the first time. He's had three seasons of 40 or more home runs and three of at least 130 RBIs. He could produce another of each this season. But his primary objective also is expressed in the first-person plural.

Randolph has Julio Franco, who already is spreading the gospel according to Us in the clubhouse.

And on Saturday, Ramon Castro spoke of "winning in New York." He said "I am happy to play not so much if we win. I'll be happier if we win than if I play more."

And Bartolome Fortunato, who is recovering from back surgery, expressed similar thoughts.

"I think about pitching more than I think about making the team," he said. "But if I make the team, I can be here to win. And that's what we talk about all the time -- win, win, win."

"I hear it when we talk," Floyd said. "We're putting the team first. That's the right way."


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