SNY will unveil a new Mets play-by-play man next month.
Relax, Gary Cohen fans. He remains the network's lead voice, entering his 10th season on the job.
But Cohen traditionally has not called every spring training game, so for seven of SNY's 16 telecasts from Florida this March a rookie play-by-play man is going to give it a try.
His name: Ron Darling.
With Kevin Burkhardt, SNY's longtime Mets reporter and fill-in play-by-play voice, leaving for Fox after last season, Darling asked executive producer Curt Gowdy Jr. if he could take a crack at it.
"I wanted the versatility,'' said Darling, an SNY analyst since 2006 and also Turner's lead MLB analyst. "I just asked him to give me a chance in spring training to do a few games to see if I had any kind of talent at it. And he said yes, so that's really where it came from.
"I'm looking forward to it. I've been working at listening, watching, trying to do games on my own at MLB Network, because they've got more space where you can kind of sit and do it. And I'm just hoping that I'm good enough at some point to do a creditable job.
"The hardest part is you can't follow [Cohen]. He's just too good. So you have to do your own thing.''
Darling, 54, will call his first game March 7, when the Mets face the Braves.
Calling a spring game is far different from a regular-season one, given the lower stakes and the constant comings and goings of players. But Darling said it is close enough to the real thing.
"I still think it's the same game for the first three innings,'' he said. "You have the same open, the same introduction, the same lineups, that kind of stuff.''
For now there are no plans to continue the experiment in the regular season. Cohen usually does not take time off anyway.
"I just wanted Curt to give me a chance and see if I had any talent at it,'' Darling said. "And listen, I wouldn't even have thought of doing it unless I knew I was going to do it with Keith [Hernandez], because he and I have been friends a long time and that helps so much that he and I are close.
"It'll be fun to do that broadcast where hopefully I'm professional enough to cover all the nuts and bolts but at the same time he and I can have a conversation like two guys watching a game. Hopefully it's not like those two old guys from The Muppet Show sitting up in the balcony. I hope it's not like those two guys. Hopefully it's a nicer version of those two guys."