It’s been about a week and a half since I announced my intention to stop updating this blog… and the reasons for doing that really haven’t changed. But I got something in the mail this weekend that I did want to share and acknowledge.
Back in 2013, I attended Zack Wheeler‘s first start at Citi Field along with 33 thousand other Mets fans who were there to see his home debut and/or try to get the David Wright bobblehead giveaway.
Mission accomplished on the bobblehead front, I might have had a better afternoon if I’d made an early exit from Citi Field. Wheeler got rocked, and Brandon Lyon (remember him?) threw gasoline on the fire. Heading to the ninth inning, the Mets trailed 11-0.
But I’m glad I stuck it out for the whole game. Instead of summoning another reliever, Terry Collins called on backup catcher Anthony Recker to face the Washington Nationals in the game’s final inning.
The Mets extended a $15.8 million qualifying offer to free agent Daniel Murphy today, though that doesn’t mean he is any more likely to return to the team in 2016. Rather, it was about making sure the Mets get an extra draft pick between the first and second rounds of next year’s amateur free agent draft. But it’s a good move, nonetheless. Before the playoff run, I was concerned that Sandy Alderson might let Murphy leave for no return.
Anthony Recker was acquired last winter to offer the Mets some catching depth. After Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas were both shipped off to Toronto in the R.A. Dickey trade, Recker looked like he’d be the backup catcher for the Mets for a month or two until Travis d’Arnaud was ready to come up to the major leagues.
As things turned out, Recker stuck in the major leagues for most of the season, but he only played in 50 games. And less than two months after Game #162, I’m already having trouble remembering anything specific Recker did at the plate or behind it.
Instead, I remember Recker is a Harry Potter fan:
Catcher Anthony Recker, a Harry Potter aficionado, yells "expelliarmus!" as Donovan Solano attempts to advance on a ball in the dirt. #Mets
June 30 was Zack Wheeler’s first start at Citi Field and David Wright bobblehead day, so I was excited to be at the ballpark. So were most of the other 33,366 fans who bought tickets to the game.
That feeling didn’t last too long. After striking out two in a 1-2-3 first inning, Wheeler gave up four runs in the second. He settled down a bit, but couldn’t escape the fifth inning. The Mets bullpen kept things close, but the Mets offense did nothing against Gio Gonzalez.
When Brandon Lyon gave up six runs in the eighth inning to give Washington an 11-0 lead heading to the ninth, it was the perfect opportunity to let a position player pitch. Recker answered the call and retired the side, but not before giving up a two-run homer to Ian Desmond.
Lee Harmon created a custom baseball card to commemorate Recker’s moment of glory on the pitcher’s mound using one of the photos I had taken, and he sent me a copy that he got Recker to sign when the Mets visited Cincinnati in September. Since Recker has yet to appear on an official baseball card as a Met, this is the first one in my collection. Thanks Lee!
“We decided when we started spring training that starting the 13th, against National League clubs, our pitchers are going to start hitting,” [Manager Terry] Collins said. “It’s a big part of the game. … There’s no reason why they shouldn’t get some quality at-bats because they’re baseball players once they get the bats in their hands so we got to get them ready.” (via NJ.com)
Now if only we could be rid of the designated hitter in all of the rest of the games, major and minor league.
Generally, if 40-man-roster players remaining in major league camp become injured within 15 days of Opening Day, they earn major league service time and pay and have to land on the disabled list to open the season until they heal.
That’s too bad, because getting a look at the kids is the most interesting part of spring training. Let’s face it, we’ll see enough of John Buck and Anthony Recker beginning in April. (Though I wouldn’t mind seeing Daniel Murphy in some real spring training games soon – just how serious is a strained intercostal muscle supposed to be, anyway?)
Still, happy thoughts: we’re one week from the official end of winter, and less than three weeks from baseball games that count for something other than national pride.
I would have enjoyed spending part of this spring in Port St. Lucie, Fla., but for various reasons that just isn’t possible.
I got a couple of autographs from players in Mets camp anyway on Tuesday. I wrote to almost a dozen players a couple of weeks ago, ones who were new to the organization or who just got their first Mets baseball cards at the end of last season. Today, the first signed cards came back.
Prior to 2012, Josh Edgin had never pitched above the Single-A level. Last year, he jumped from Double-A all the way to the major leagues and enjoyed some mixed results with the Mets. He’s considered a favorite to win a spot in the big league bullpen this year.
Anthony Recker arrived in the Mets organization via a waiver claim from the Chicago Cubs last October. Recker played in a handful of games for both Chicago and Oakland last year, but he spent most of the season in Triple-A. He’s got a good chance to win the backup catcher job for the Mets this year.