No other team made feel for Al Leiter’s next baseball project
PORT ST. LUCIE — At nine:15 Sunday morning, Steven Matz threw a bullpen session, seeking to accurate the errors that have been pounded out of the ballpark on Friday, while the Mets’ lefty couldn’t get the ball down and surrendered four home runs to the Nationals. Pitching train Dave Eiland watched intently. Quietly standing off to the facet was someone who is aware of lots approximately pitching and left-handers and the fearless attitude this is had to prevail within the most important leagues — Al Leiter. On Sunday, Leiter got here domestic to the Mets. On March 4, the Mets introduced Leiter, and John Franco could work with the Mets and trendy manager Brodie Van Wagenen as baseball operations advisers, brothers in palms again, however, Sunday become Leiter’s first day of real remark around the team. Leiter knows the closing issue Matz needs now could be a former pitcher chirping in his ear, so he will now not force any mind on Matz. He’ll watch, take intellectual notes and some in a pocketbook that he carried with him later in the day on the backfields as he and Franco watched relievers Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson and Edwin Diaz pitch in a “B’’ sport. Leiter walked off with Van Wagenen after the three relievers had been finished with their one-inning assignments. From there, it changed into off to the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, in which the Mets had been hammered by the Nationals, 10-5.
Leiter is ecstatic along with his new role and the reality that his voice could be heard by Van Wagenen and Mets choice-makers. It’s one issue to speak baseball on TV, it’s another to have a seat at the big desk, having input on the choices made about the team he cherished developing up, the group he pitched for from 1998-2004, posting a ninety five-67 document. “I’ve been sort of yearning to get again to where I spent seven amazing years,’’ Leiter said in the dugout outside the Mets clubhouse at First Data Field. “I grew up a Mets fan; I lived the dream by getting the chance after nine, ten years within the huge leagues to get lower back to New York and play for the group you rooted for. TV stuff has been a laugh. However, I’ve been itching to want to get extra involved with baseball operations.’’ Leiter also will watch his son, Jack, pitch his senior yr of high faculty for Delbarton, in Morristown, N.J. Jack has devoted to Vanderbilt. Scouts accumulate for all his starts. Leiter, 53, has been friends with Van Wagenen a long term and that is how this opportunity provided itself. “No other organization might make feel,’’ Leiter said. “It’s the right issue.’’ It certain is. The Mets may want to learn from Leiter’s passion and knowledge of the art of pitching. Over his 19-yr career, Leiter has become a disciple of the late sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman. Leiter is a large believer in the mental aspect of pitching, and when he talks to the young minor league pitchers, and perhaps a few principal league pitchers, he’ll make that factor. He also will try to persuade pitchers to pitch with overall conviction. When you’re on the mound, do now not show any weak spot. Be the boss. “I’m ready,’’ Leiter stated of this new assignment. “And I’ve constantly been very curious.’’
He said the timing is best. “I don’t understand of any rotation with greater depth,’’ he said of Jacob deGrom & Co. “The one via 4 is pretty difficult to beat.’’ Matz, the fourth starter, is having a tough spring, posting a ten.Ninety-seven ERA, however, spring numbers all get tossed quickly, and Matz changed into retaining the ball down all through his Sunday morning bullpen session. He has to take it to the sport. “I’m no longer involved,’’ Matz told The Post, pronouncing the next few days he could be operating with video to get his transport right. “I simply want to power the ball down in preference to flying open and getting on the facet of the ball. When I’m up in the quarter, they are able just to take away the low pitch, and I throw the ball up and bam.’’