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Manuel sees hope for reliever Igarashi

Ryota Igarashi pitching the 8th inning before leaving

Ryota Igarashi pitching the 8th inning before leaving the game because of injury. (April 20, 2010) Credit: David Pokress

SAN DIEGO - Ryota Igarashi's roller-coaster ride from K-Rod's set-up man to bullpen oblivion continued Monday night, when he allowed six hits and four earned runs in one-third of an inning. That followed Friday's dubious honor of giving up a walk off homer to the Brewers' Corey Hart on the pitcher's 31st birthday. It also ended the Mets' streak of 35 scoreless innings.

So what happened to Igarashi? Before he was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, Igarashi held opposing hitters to a .136 average and had allowed only three hits and one run in 62/3 innings. Since his return, opponents have batted .526 off Igarashi, who has given up 10 hits and 11 runs in three innings. That has moved him farther down the bullpen bench, slightly ahead of Oliver Perez.

"It's the command of the fastball, and keeping it down, rather than up in the strike zone, that concerns me," Jerry Manuel said. "His fastball gets up, and straight, it's very hittable. If he can keep it down, and have a little life on it, then it can be effective."

That would allow Igarashi to get more swings and misses with his splitter, which is crucial to his success. Igarashi looked like he had some problems Monday with the mound at PETCO Park, but might need some work on his mechanics as well.

Extra bases

The Mets have no plans to put Oliver Perez on the disabled list, despite agent Scott Boras reportedly requesting it so that he could work with a sports psychologist. A person familiar with the situation, however, expressed optimism Tuesday that Perez would accept a demotion soon . . . Daniel Murphy's experiment to become a utility player at Triple-A Buffalo continued Tuesday when he played his first game at second base. He also expects to get some time in leftfield.

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