CLOSING IN: Victor Zambrano figures to get a look in the closer's role as the Mets experiment in the bullpen. Leading 4-0 entering the ninth Friday, Randolph was prepared to insert Zambrano for Pedro Martinez had the ace faltered. It would have qualified as a save situation once the first two batters reached against Martinez. The manager often has downplayed Aaron Heilman's candidacy as a closer because of his reliance on a changeup rather than a dominating swing-and-miss pitch like Zambrano's slider.
Zambrano prefers returning to the rotation next season, but noted he was a closer in the Venezuelan winter league and in the minors with the Devil Rays, where he had 20 saves over two seasons. Zambrano also had three saves with Tampa Bay in 2001 and '02. "Right now it's not in my mind," Zambrano said. "If it's a job I have to do, I'll be ready."
Braden Looper, likely a setup man if he returns next season, acknowledged he had been briefed about juggled bullpen roles during the final two weeks. "That's kind of the picture I got," he said.
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