Notes: Pettitte pitching healthy

Notes: Pettitte pitching healthy

NEW YORK -- After losing to the New York Mets by an 8-4 margin on Monday, no one was in the mood to draw positives from what was a bad defensive effort.

But there was one bright spot: Andy Pettitte. The fact that he exceeded the 100-pitch mark for the first time since last July 21, was as significant as his superb performance on Monday, during which he handcuffed the Mets through five innings. He could have made it through six, had the defense behind him done a better job.

It will probably take an entire season before Pettitte will spared the questions about the elbow issues that cut his season short last year and forced him to take baby steps during Spring Training last month. But with two good outings under his belt, the questions are slowly turning away from health-related issues and more toward what's going on between the lines.

"From an arm standpoint, it was a positive day for me," the lefty said. "We got the pitch count up, and that was a good thing. I want to get it to a point where it's not even a concern for Skip."

Manager Phil Garner didn't seemed preoccupied with Pettitte's pitch count. He was focused more on the manner by which Pettitte's teammates let him down. In some ways, the fact that Pettitte's health was a non-issue is probably a very good sign for the team.

"He should have been out of the [sixth] inning with nothing," Garner said. "He threw well. We didn't play a very good game defensively."

Mistaken identity: Craig Biggio had no idea that he wore a different jersey than his teammates during Sunday's series finale with the Reds until a reporter asked him about it Monday morning at Shea Stadium.

The Astros wore their red Sunday jerseys, but they have two variations -- one for home, one for the road. The home jersey -- worn by 24 players, six coaches and one manager on Sunday -- has "Astros" on the front. The road uniforms say "Houston," and thanks to Biggio, it was prominently displayed Sunday at the Astros' home park.

"I had no idea," Biggio said. "My family didn't even notice." Remembering that he went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored during the Astros' 5-2 win, he jokingly threatened to wear the wrong jersey again.

At first, Biggio figured the clubhouse staff put the wrong jersey in his locker before the game. Not so. This one is all on Biggio, who had purchased two red road jerseys from equipment manager Dennis Liborio to give as gifts. He stuck them in his locker and forgot about it.

"I put them in a certain spot, too," Biggio said. "I said, 'I'm not going to touch them.' Obviously, I must have."

The jerseys were from the 2003 season, so not only was Biggio the only one wearing "Houston" across his chest, he was also the only one wearing the patch honoring the fallen astronauts of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

"Nobody noticed that during the game," Biggio marveled. "As much as I'd like to get all over Dennis for this one, I can't. I'd like to blame Dennis. I really would. But I can't. That one was my fault."

Agree to disagree: Jeff Bagwell, the poster boy of self-restraint throughout his 14-year career, argued -- maybe for the first time -- with a home plate umpire on a called third strike.

Bagwell disagreed that an inside pitch from Tom Glavine was a strike, and he made that perfectly clear to Mark Wegner, who caught an earful from the first baseman until Garner took up the argument.

"I saw [Mike] Piazza set up inside, and it looked like he reached a little more inside," Garner said. "But I can't tell where the pitch is. But Bagwell has a pretty good idea of the strikezone."

"I've never argued that much, ever," Bagwell said. "It's just like any of those arguments. It's a difference of opinion. He thought it got part of the plate, and I knew it didn't."

Franco homecoming: John Franco's day at Shea Stadium began in the same fashion it did for 15 years while he was with New York Mets, only this time, he headed to the vistors' clubhouse at his old ballpark.

Franco, a born and bred New Yorker, parked in the Mets' players parking lot, visited with the clubhouse attendants and support staff and spoke at length with the New York media.

Franco dispelled a report that suggested he was selling his Staten Island house and moving to Texas. He is selling the house, but he and his wife have no intention of living outside of New York.

"We're going to live here," Franco said. "My kids were born and raised here. The only thing is, I'm selling the house. My house has been on the market for a year. We're New Yorkers and always will be. We love New York. New York is a part of us."

Apparently, the Mets feel the same way about Franco. He received a huge ovation during pregame introductions and in between innings, the scoreboard played a video tribute to Franco set to the 1980's Bad English song, "When I see you Smile."

Franco played for the Mets from 1990-2004, during which time he established himself as the all-time left-handed saves leader. He also made plenty of friends within the close baseball fraternity.

"I walked by the [Mets'] locker room, saw all the guys that work there," Franco said. "Those are the guys that you miss a lot, the clubhouse kids and Charlie [Samuels, traveling secretary]. It's like a second family. You spend a long time, from February through September, with these guys. So it's good to see them."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.