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Sunday, May 07, 2006

It's Lima Time!
By Nicholas Stix


“It’s Lima time tomorrow, so set your clocks ahead or back, depending on which Lima-time you’re in.”

Sports Net New York host Steve Berthiaume during Saturday’s Mets’ postgame show, on the team’s call-up of erratic, flaky, yet immensely likeable righthander Jose Lima to pitch Sunday’s game.

Due to an elbow problem, the Mets lost Victor Zambrano after four batters in Saturday’s game. And yet, with a patchwork of heroic relief pitchers led by Darren Oliver, and with Jorge Julio as an improbable closer in a nail-biting finish, they still managed to beat the Braves, 6-5, for a sweep of their three-game series. (With Zambrano’s history of early exits, it remains to be seen how long the Mets’ bullpen can survive bailing him out.) Meanwhile, rookie righthander Ryan Bannister is still on the DL with a pulled hamstring, and his replacement, John Maine, is out with an inflamed middle finger on his pitching hand, which makes it impossible for him to throw breaking balls – or to communicate with his fellow New Yorkers.

Lima, who is officially 33 years old, but looks about ten years older, has a history mixing dazzling seasons, such as 1999, when he won 21 games for Houston, with atrocious ones, such as 2000 in Houston, when he went 7-16, and last year in Kansas City, when he went 5-16 (with a 6.99 ERA!). He has not pitched for a major league club since 2004, when he went 13-5 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His lifetime stats are 89-98 and 5.21, respectively, so the Mets had better wear body armor when they go out to their positions, since they could find themselves in the middle of a missile attack.

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