Good Saturday morning. A little talk in the clubhouse about Team USA losing last night to Mexico. The operative word being “little.’’
I’ve only been here a few days, but trust me on this one, after doing 20 some Spring Trainings the days are usually all alike. We’re usually in the clubhouse by 7:45 in the morning, sometimes earlier depending on where the game is that day.
The first thing most players do is head straight to a corner wall where the lineup is posted. Most guys know the night before if they’ll be playing, but it is a force of habit for many.
The Mets’ clubhouse has changed over the years. Once shamed about not honoring their past, photos of Mets’ alumni are plastered over the walls. Tom Seaver, Ed Kranepool, Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, Dwight Gooden, Mookie Wilson and Jerry Koosman.
Always fun to look at.
At one time the clubhouse was divided by a row of lockers split down the middle. They are all gone now creating a wide-open space where everybody can see everybody else. It creates a different atmosphere similar to that at Citi Field. The idea is to foster closeness where the players actually have to see and talk with each other.
There are a couple of televisions attached to columns at each end. Under one, Ike Davis, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Justin Turner sit and eat breakfast at a small circle table. There’s a fourth chair, and every day there’s a new body.
The lockers are divided by position with the position players at one end and pitchers at another. There is no designated area for lefty relievers only.
Gone are the days when the Latin players dominated the clubhouse with their joking and music, led by pitchers Pedro Martinez, Geremi Gonzalez and Jose Lima, while the American, and yes – caucasian players – often congregated in clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels’ office.
Samuels, you might remember, is gone after stealing thousands of dollars worth of memorabilia and gambling. He is not a pleasant topic of conversation.
Perhaps it was the chemistry of the personalities at the time – Lima was very loud – but there was a definite divide hard not to notice. Especially noticeable was the difference in how Martinez and Tom Glavine were treated. There seemed a preference for Martinez, although both could end up in Cooperstown.
It was definitely an uncomfortable setting despite the Mets’ honest efforts to embrace their Latin players.
It’s more integrated and comfortable this way. Rarely do you see guys with their heads buried in their lockers wearing headphones listening to music or playing video games. There is no divide and both sides play and hangout as one unit – one team.
The wide-open space is like an aquarium for the reporters.
In an aquarium you see the fish drift from spot to spot, nibble and move on. It’s that way for us. We drift to a player, talk awhile and go onto the next. Reporters working on a feature will naturally stay longer.
There’s an unwritten rule or sign of respect when another reporter is one-on-one with a player to stay away until he or she is done conversing. When two reporters from competing papers are around a player, then it is all right to join in.
Only when there is an obvious story, like a player coming off an injury, do we go en masse to that locker. Swarm, if you will.
One of the Houston writers just entered the press-room and I asked him what was new. His response was: “The Astros … all of them.’’
The players are now stretching or hitting in the cages.
Jeremy Hefner, the first in line if Johan Santana opens the season on the disabled list will start today. Also scheduled are Brandon Lyon, Darin Gorski, Jeurys Familia, Bobby Parnell and Robert Carson. … Parnell will be working in back-to-back games for the first time. … Lucas Duda, who is struggling so far this spring, took extra hitting in the cage. … Travis d’Arnaud said he’s fine after taking a pitch on the elbow yesterday. … The Mets sent pitchers Cory Mazzoni and Rafael Montero, and catcher Juan Centeno to the minor league camp. … Nieuwenhuis is still day-to-day with a bruised left knee.
Here’s today’s lineup:
- Marlon Byrd, RF
- Justin Turner, 2B
- Ike Davis, 1B
- Lucas Duda, LF
- John Buck, C
- Matt den Dekker, CF
- Anthony Recker, DH
- Ruben Tejada, SS
- Wilmer Flores, 3B
RHP Jeremy Hefner is starting.