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Piazza Out Because of Sore Back

July 15, 2002 GMT

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Mets catcher Mike Piazza was scratched from the starting lineup Monday night against the Florida Marlins because of a sore lower back.

``His back’s been a little sore for about a week, so we’re trying to get that soreness out,″ New York manager Bobby Valentine said. ``He probably could play tonight if we needed him.″

Piazza caught 12 innings Saturday against Philadelphia and was given off on Sunday. Valentine hopes two consecutive days of rest will help Piazza feel better and allow him to play Tuesday afternoon against Florida.

The 10-time NL All-Star is batting .293 with 18 home runs and 64 RBIs. He has been swinging the bat especially well of late, with three homers and 17 RBIs in his last eight games.