The Mets’ announcement of the return of 1987 emergency starting pitcher Don Schulze  to the organization as a special Spring Training instructor was undermined when the team’s new clubhouse manager, Kevin Kierst, could rustle up only the H and the U  for Schulze’s pinstriped No. 25 jersey. In light of the Mets ownership group’s recently revealed financial straits, observers wonder if the team will have the necessary resources to purchase enough letters to dress its players and coaches in accordance with strictly enforced National League uniform standards in 2011.
A Mets spokesman denied the missing S, C, L, Z and E in SCHULZE are related to the Bernie Madoff affair, citing instead former Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels’s penchant for “gambling the shirts off our backs, including many of their alphanumeric elements.” The spokesman added, “We’ll have almost every letter at our disposal — and multiples of each vowel — by the beginning of our exhibition schedule…our season opener in Miami at the latest.”
However it came about, the letter shortfall would explain the presence of a so-called “mystery player” spotted working out around third base this past weekend in Port St. Lucie. One local resident visiting the Mets’ training complex to take in informal early fielding drills was heard to wonder, “Who the hell is IG 5?”