Mets sympathize with Sasser's plight Team hopes catcher can stop 'tapping'


PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The New York Mets are reacting with sympathy to Mackey Sasser, who's lost his No. 1 catching job because of a mysterious "tapping" habit. But while the club offers comfort, there is concern whether Sasser's syndrome can be corrected.

"It's hard to think of something new we can try, because we've come at it from almost every angle," said vice president Al Harazin. "It's almost gotten to be larger than life. I hate to think of this as a Steve Blass-type thing, but it's obviously more than a physical problem."

"We all want to help Mackey," Dave Cone said. "I'm ready to do anything he needs, come out to the park early or anything like that. We're past the point of criticizing him or making fun of it. Now he needs our help."

Sasser met privately with Bud Harrelson yesterday, and was formally told of his demotion. Sasser still has no idea how to correct the "tap" -- the repeated pounding of the ball in his glove before returning it to the pitcher -- but clings to hope the syndrome will disappear.

"We'll play it by ear, see what happens," Sasser said. "It's embarrassing as hell to me, but who knows, one day I could wake up and it'll be gone."

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