The San Diego Padres began spring training with a whopping total of 67 players reporting to camp in Peoria, Ariz. With a number that large, numerous players were sent to play in the minor league affiliates. Although this may seem like a disappointment to the players, some saw the opportunity to train with the major leaguers as a privilege.
Tom Wegmann, now residing in Vestal, N.Y., was fortunate enough to participate in spring training with both the New York Mets and the Baltimore Orioles. Wegmann reminisced about his best memories, which he said was when he trained with the major league Mets.
Tom Wegmann 1991 Baseball Card
“When you workout with the players everyday, you see that they are human,” Wegmann said. “Everyone becomes equal during spring training.”
Wegmann, a pitcher, realized that he was on an even playing field with some of the big stars of the team, and by the end of spring training was no longer awestruck and gained confidence in his own playing abilities.
The Padres, looking to improve in their upcoming season, have maintained a balanced record during spring training. Wegmann expressed that ending the preseason positively carries over into the regular season.
“It does matter to the individual if you are winning during spring training,” Wegmann stated. “Winning builds confidence for the regular season.”
— Danielle Ogozaly
Mets’ infielder Zach Lutz displays his catch.
(Andrew Keh/The New York Times photo)
Andrew Keh has an entertaining piece in The New York Times about the Mets’ fishing escapades.
“To find a brief escape, more and more Mets are spending their free hours fishing the multitude of ponds, like this one, around the team’s practice facility and nearby towns,” Keh explains in the article.
Keh’s story not only includes tales of the fishes the players are catching in the Port St. Lucie area, but recounts adventures involving alligators, snakes and navigating the local waterways.
David Wright after his walk-off RBI in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
David Wright will represent the New York Mets in the World Baseball Classic. The all-star third baseman, who will play for Team USA, is the only Met taking part in the tournament.
Johan Santana had wanted to pitch for Venezuela, but the Mets are taking a cautious approach with Santana’s tender shoulder and did not grant him permission to play.
Wright played in the 2009 classic and had a walk-off RBI against Puerto Rico.
“At the time I had so many teammates on the Puerto Rican team,” he told ESPN’s Adam Rubin. “The lasting memory that I have is running around first. Me and Delgado had been talking back and forth all game. Just seeing the look on his face. I could remember jawing at Delgado all game. Getting a chance to run by them knowing they were out was awesome.”
While no other Mets will play for Team USA this year, the tournament will provide an opportunity for Wright to suit up with former teammate R.A. Dickey. The Cy Young Award-winning pitcher was traded from the Mets to the Toronto Blue Jays during the off-season.
— Richard Lee
Met fans have not had it easy the past few years.
After narrowly missing the World Series in 2006, the team blew large leads at the end of the 2007 and 2008 seasons and missed the post-season both years. The next few seasons were even worse with losing records of 70-92 in 2009, 79-83 in 2010 and 77-85 in 2011.
The Mets are hoping for big years in 2013 from David Wright, who re-signed with the team during the winter, and Ike Davis, one of several players overdue for a breakout season. (Richard Lee photo)
Last year was more of the same. Following an encouraging first half in 2012, the team struggled after the All Star break and finished with a disappointing record of 74-88, 24 games out of first place in the NL East.
The organization made no big name signings over the off-season and traded away last year’s best pitcher – Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, making it difficult for Met fans to feel optimistic about the 2013 campaign. On paper, it looks like another year of tough times, but Met fans (especially those who remember team’s 1969 World Championship) know that miracles can happen.
On the bright side, the team re-signed All Star third baseman David Wright over the winter and received catcher Travis d’Arnaud (Major League Baseball’s No. 11 top-rated prospect) as part of the R.A. Dickey trade. First baseman Ike Davis is one of several Mets who are overdue for breakout years, and the team hopes to catch lightning in a bottle from one of the many MLB veterans it signed to minor league deals over the winter.
In addition, the pitchers who figure to be part of the starting pitching rotation – Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey – all have demonstrated the ability to excel at the Major League level. They just need to do so with greater consistency. A healthy Johan Santana (and that still is a question) would provide a large boost for the pitching squad and the entire team.
Who knows? Perhaps, the New York Mets and their loyal fans are in for a pleasant surprise in 2013.
— Richard Lee