The series opener was originally scheduled for Friday, but was postponed because of rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ivan, forcing a doubleheader Sunday. The rain delayed more than just the start of the series, however, as New York’s Todd Zeile had to wait an extra day for his first appearance behind the plate in 14 years
Zeile, who intends to retire at the end of this season, will start at catcher for the first time since 1990 with St. Louis—his second year in the majors.
“It’s exciting,” Zeile said before Thursday’s 9-4 win over Atlanta. “I think I’ll be a little nervous.”
The 39-year-old Zeile has spent most of his career at third and first base. But he’s been catching in the bullpen lately, and told Mets manager Art Howe he would like to catch in a game one more time before he calls it quits.
“It’s important to him,” Howe said. “I asked him how important it was to him and he said he really wanted to catch again. So, I asked him if he wanted to catch an inning or a whole game, and he said he wanted to catch a full game.”
Tom Glavine will be the Mets’ starting pitcher Friday, and Zeile has been working with the left-hander.
“I really wanted him to catch here in front of our fans, but he’s probably most comfortable catching Tommy,” Howe said.
“I’m just hoping Glav goes all nine innings,” Zeile added.
Zeile homered in the first and doubled in the fourth inning Thursday for his 1,997 and 1,998th career hits. He is one of 13 players to play 100 or more games each at catcher, first base and third base. He’s even pitched in two games since his last appearance behind the plate, the last time coming earlier this season.
Former Met Ty Wigginton will be facing his former team for the first time in the series opener.
Wigginton, who was sent to Pittsburgh on July 30 with two minor leaguers for right-hander Kris Benson, has not fared well since coming to the Pirates.
After hitting .285 (89-for-312) with 12 homers and 43 RBIs in 86 games for New York, Wigginton is batting just .207 (28-for-135) with two homers and 11 RBIs in 43 games with the Pirates.
Saturday’s game also marks the beginning of Pittsburgh’s final homestand of the season. The Pirates need to win five of nine games on the stand to secure their first winning home record in four seasons at PNC Park.
“We are in a position to have a winning record at home. It is something to build off of,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It’s something to be proud of.”