The calm before the storm is nearly over.
The Mets’ equipment trucks departed for sunny Port St. Lucie today, and Marty Noble from MLB.com was all over the action.
With an assist from Mr. Met, the mascot of moving, workers loaded all sorts of Spring Training paraphernalia onto a 10-wheeler… Baseball gear was included, of course, and also medical supplies, media relations supplies, the bikes of sons and daughters, playpens and some necessities of Florida living — golf clubs.
That sure sounded like the details of a reposing vacation, but a group of others decided to get down to business early. SNY analyst and former Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez was kind enough to offer on-field advice to youngsters Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans. Hernandez worked with the players on a practice field in St. Lucie, where he mic’ed himself up and demonstrated the proper way to play the first base position.
It was great to see Hernandez travel from his home in Florida, which he said was about 40 minutes away. Following the session, Murphy told reporters that he was very thankful for the opportunity to work with an established and experienced player such as Hernandez, and I don’t blame him. Hernandez is regarded as one of the best to play his position, and any Mets fan will tell you that his number belongs on the CitiField wall alongside Gil Hodges, Casey Stengel, Jackie Robinson, and Tom Seaver.
I hope the Mets will be willing to incorporate more of these sessions with the young players, as it seems to be something you don’t see every day in professional baseball. On the same token, it could be difficult to round up the former players and set up such an event once the season is underway.
In other news, it was fantastic to see that the Mets settled on a one-year contract with Angel Pagan in order to avoid arbitration. Pagan will be a major part of the outfield plans for the first few months of the year as Carlos Beltran recovers from surgery. Along with the newly-acquired Jason Bay, Pagan will be working with Jeff Francoeur and veteran Gary Matthews, Jr.
Moving to the infield, it appears that the Mets have been flipping through their old media guides in hopes of trying to find former players that are still active. The Mets are supposedly close to signing former first base prospect Mike Jacobs to a minor league deal. Jacobs spent a few solid seasons with the Florida Marlins, where he was notorious for striking out but popular for his home-run hitting abilities. Last season, Jacobs struggled as a member of the Kansas City Royals and only hit 19 home runs.
If anyone remembers, Jacobs hit a 3-run pinch-hit home run in his first major league at bat during his first stint with the Mets. Five seasons later, he is only one home run away from his 100th career home run.