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Will Isringhausen stay with Mets?

Mets relief pitcher Jason Isringhausen throws during a

Mets relief pitcher Jason Isringhausen throws during a spring training game. (Feb. 28, 2011) Credit: AP

VIERA, Fla. -- The Mets put Jason Isringhausen's comeback story on hold Tuesday by asking the 38-year-old reliever to remain behind in Port St. Lucie as an insurance policy for their untested bullpen.

Now they have to hope Isringhausen will accept the terms rather than head home to St. Louis, which he had pledged to do if the Mets did not include him on the Opening Day roster.

In completing the bullpen, the Mets chose Blaine Boyer over Isringhausen for the last spot, and manager Terry Collins told Boyer before Tuesday's 8-2 win over the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium.

Ultimately, the Mets were too worried about Isringhausen's health to risk losing Boyer, who had an out in his contract for March 31. General manager Sandy Alderson said he expected Isringhausen to give him an answer by Wednesday.

"I think it was durability, No. 1, in the sense of being able to pitch back to back and frequently, over periods of days," Alderson said. "And the second was just long term will the health hold up? But I think right now, it's more about being able to pitch routinely, consistently; that is of greater concern."

Isringhausen, coming off three Tommy John surgeries, understands why the Mets have reservations about his right elbow. It didn't help that Isringhausen was sidelined earlier this month with elbow soreness, a condition that apparently was solved with a three-day dose of anti-inflammatory medication.

But the uncertainty is not easy for a 14-year veteran like Isringhausen, who says he knows how to do only two things: "throw and be a dad." After Tuesday's game, Isringhausen was asked if he was any closer to a decision. "Nothing to report," he replied.

The Mets' lack of bullpen depth has made them very protective of their limited assets. With the Boyer move, they also designated Manny Acosta for assignment, and tried to paint a favorable picture for Isringhausen.

"There's always going to be some injury risk associated with Jason," Alderson said. "But the next two weeks will tell us a little more about his velocity, about how he bounces back from the day-to-day, and also tell us more about our own situation with the bullpen."

In addition to Boyer, the Mets also told Rule 5 pick Pedro Beato that he had made the team as a reliever, along with the expected locks of Francisco Rodriguez, Bobby Parnell, D.J. Carrasco, Tim Byrdak and Taylor Buchholz.

"We think we have good arms down there," Collins said. "As I told Izzy before the game, make no mistake about it -- if you're willing to be patient a little bit, condition your arm a little bit, we're going to need help."

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