SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -The New York Mets were close Monday to reaching agreement with right-hander Brian Lawrence on a minor league contract.
The deal was pending a physical, according to a baseball official with knowledge of the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because it wasn't yet complete. A contract could be finalized by Wednesday.
Lawrence, designated for assignment by the Colorado Rockies organization on April 19 and then released, is to begin his New York tenure in the rotation of Triple-A New Orleans.
Adding Lawrence will give the Mets some depth and insurance with an experienced starter, something the club needs with Orlando Hernandez on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury. Lawrence, who turns 31 on May 14, went 0-2 with an 8.91 ERA in three starts for Triple-A Colorado Springs this year. He had 10 strikeouts and walked five in 19 2-3 innings.
He spent parts of five major league seasons with the San Diego Padres from 2001-05, but hasn't pitched in a major league game since going 7-15 in '05. He was the Padres' minor league player of the year in 2000, then won 10 or more games in the majors from 2002-04. He was a 15-game winner in '04.
El Duque threw Saturday and will likely have a bullpen session Wednesday or Thursday before the Mets decide on the next step in his rehab program, probably a simulated game or minor league appearance. They don't want to rush him.
New York, which began a three-game series at San Francisco tied for the NL East lead with Atlanta, designated Chan Ho Park for assignment Thursday and he accepted a minor league assignment the next day to go to Triple-A.
The Mets called up Jorge Sosa when Hernandez went on the DL on April 30. The right-hander outpitched reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb in the Mets' 6-2 victory at Arizona on Saturday night, New York's 13th straight win at Chase Field.

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