NEW YORK -- In the relative silence of the bat room -- no relation to the Bat Cave or the Bat Mobile -- Mike Cameron pulled one of his dozen bats from the rack, held its barrel to his ear and tapped it with his knuckle, almost as if he was using a tuning fork.
Consider it an audio search for good, good, good vibrations.
"I'm looking for one with a higher 'ping,' " Cameron said.
Then, correcting himself, he said, "I'm listening for one with the higher pitch. The closer to aluminum, the better."
The Mets' right fielder auditioned several weapons -- booong, boong, boong -- before he found one that, he was sure, had hits in it.
"Bing! Hear it?" he said. "This is the right one."
It was Thursday night, hours before the first pitch of the Mets' series against the Braves, hours before the first game after the All-Star break, the Mets' 6-3 victory. Cameron had wanted to start off more productively than he had ended the first half of the season.
Alas, he went hitless. The bat did not go blameless, though.
"Stupid bat," he said moments after the game. "It hit the ball right at people. Dumb bat."
"He had some of that old Piazza medicine on that bat," Cliff Floyd suggested on Sunday. "Mike was hitting everything right at people the first half."
It was the same medicine that Dan Quisenberry said he once found on the bat of a teammate. After Frank White, the former Royals second baseman, had endured a particularly vexing, hitless game against the Yankees, hitting four at-'em balls, Quisenberry chided White for his accuracy and suggested, "Whatever they made your bat out of, they should use it for golf clubs."
Thursday's three at-bats were the first of 11 straight fruitless plate appearances Cameron endured in the series.
"I've got guys jumping into the stands and straddling the line, taking hits away from me," he said. "I need a smarter bat."
What he needed was the high-IQ, higher-pitch-ping bat he used in May. Cameron began his season belatedly because of the surgery on and subsequent rehab of his left wrist. His first game was on May 5. For the month, he batted .372, the highest monthly average by a Met since July 2002, when Edgardo Alfonzo batted .376.
"I had one bat that whole month. Used it every day," said Cameron. "Good bat, smart bat. It sounded good. I love that bat."
But it died -- they all do -- and it didn't even die a hero.
"I got jammed and hit a flair," said Cameron.
But the bat Cameron chose on Sunday seemingly has some potential, some of which was realized in his first two at-bats against Mike Hampton. He contributed a single to a rally in the first inning of the Mets' 8-1 victory and hit a two-run home run in the second. Later, he drove in another run with a single.
"I just looked for one that looked good," he said. "I've given up listening."