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Monday, September 9, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Major League Baseball

NL notebook: Keith Hernandez vs. Mike Piazza

Memo to Keith Hernandez: Enter the New York Mets' clubhouse with extreme caution.

Hernandez, the five-time All-Star first baseman who does color commentary for Mets games on MSG, wrote a scathing assessment of his former team on the network's Web site, calling the franchise's current players heartless and quitters.

Mike Piazza called Hernandez a clueless voice "from the grave."

Hernandez wrote on msgnetwork.com: "The club has no heart; the Mets quit a long time ago. Bobby Valentine could've chewed this team out in June when this stuff started creeping in. He was quoted as saying, 'We brought veteran players in here who I felt were professionals, and I can be more hands-off and they can police themselves. Obviously, I was wrong.'

"You can read between the lines there on what's going on in the clubhouse. It's not really finger-pointing, but Bobby has not been hands-on this year, and I think he has been disappointed with the leadership in the clubhouse."

Said Piazza: "He's just trying to make a name for himself at our expense. That's the problem with society today — there's just too many people that have an open forum. It's ridiculous. If you want to say we didn't execute, fine. If you want to say we didn't freakin' do the job, I'll agree. But if you want to say we're quitters, that to me is a personal attack.

"Especially for someone like him. ... Like he's a judge of character, who quit or didn't quit?"

When contacted Saturday, Hernandez said he stood by his words.

"Could I have stated it better? Yes. Should I have (accused) the team collectively? No."

Hernandez said he understood why the Mets were angry at him.

"If I was a player and someone said this about my team, I would be upset too," he said.

Arizona: LHP Brian Anderson, who picked the Giants' Benito Santiago off first, has a team-leading eight pickoffs for the second straight season.

Cincinnati: RHP Danny Graves got his 32nd save, matching his career high set last year.

Colorado: LHP Brian Fuentes, a former Mariner, had his career-high scoreless streak snapped at 11 appearances spanning 8-1/3 innings.

Florida: The Marlins hope to get RHPs Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett back from the disabled list this week.

Houston: RHP Wade Miller will attempt to win his 10th consecutive decision tomorrow at Colorado, which would put him within two of the franchise record set by Mark Portugal in 1993.

Los Angeles: LHP Kazuhisa Ishii left in an ambulance with a concussion after getting struck flush on the forehead by a line drive off the bat of Houston's Brian Hunter. In the fourth inning, Hunter drove a 3-2 pitch so hard off the left side of Ishii's head that it ricocheted all the way to the backstop behind home plate for a run-scoring single. Manager Jim Tracy, assistant trainer Matt Wilson and paramedics rushed to the pitcher's aid. Ishii was placed in a neck brace, then on a stretcher and driven off through the center-field gate. Dodgers spokesman John Olguin reported that Ishii has feeling and movement in all of his limbs and was fully conscious when he was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital for X-rays and further tests. He will remain hospitalized for at least 24 hours for observation by a neurologist.

Milwaukee: 2B Eric Young took over 37th place on the career steals list with his 406th in the sixth inning. He broke a tie with Frank Chance.

New York: The Mets recalled RHP Jason Middlebrook from Class AAA Norfolk.

Philadelphia: RHP Brandon Duckworth has allowed a team-high 24 home runs.

Pittsburgh: The Pirates have already surpassed last year's victory total of 62 but are only two losses from clinching their 10th consecutive losing season.

San Diego: Phil Nevin stole home on the back end of a double steal with Ron Gant swiping second base. The last Padres player to steal home was the late Mike Darr on Sept. 11, 2000.

St. Louis: The Cardinals' bullpen has thrown 30 consecutive scoreless innings.

— Times news services

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