Daniel Vogelbach was the man of the hour in the Mets’ clubhouse on Saturday.
The recent arrival, who the Mets got in a trade with Pittsburgh for reliever Colin Holderman, has several connections on the team. Taijuan Walker was his teammate in Seattle. Growing up in South Florida, he was on a travel ball team with Francisco Lindor and Tomas Nido. Vogelbach also appeared to make fast friends with Pete Alonso, who is a fellow Florida man.
Though not in the starting lineup on Saturday — J.D. Davis got the start at designated hitter, as is customary when the opponent starts a left-handed pitcher — Vogelbach has already acclimated himself to his new club.
“I’m just going to bring it every day,” Vogelbach said in the clubhouse ahead of opening pitch on Saturday. “That’s kind of what I focus on. There’s going to be good days and there’s going to be bad days. I think the one thing you can control is being a good teammate and making winning your number one priority.”
His past big-league stops have been Seattle, Toronto during the COVID season, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. Being thrown into a pennant race in the Big Apple will present Vogelbach with a completely new baseball experience. In talking to the man himself, though, he’s insistent that the hoopla won’t get to him.
“I’m just a guy that — I want to win,” he said. “I’m super competitive, I’ve been that way since I was a kid. To be wanted by a team that has one goal in mind, to win the World Series, it makes you feel good. It really makes you want to play.”
Vogelbach said that when he was playing for the Mariners, he became close with Jay Bruce. A former Met who spent parts of three seasons with the team, Bruce gave Vogelbach some pointers on Friday night about how to handle the bright lights, both literally and figuratively.
“I don’t think I’ve hit here before,” Vogelbach said, remembering that his only trip here with the Brewers came while he was on the injured list. “I guess we’re going to have to find out. [Bruce] basically just told me to enjoy it, and I was going to have the time of my life.”
The message from Vogelbach was loud and clear: He cannot wait to get started and is very eager about contributing to a team that has a chance to make a memorable run.
“Not only in baseball, but in life when you feel wanted, it makes you feel good,” he explained. “This team is special, just watching them from afar, I’m excited and blessed to be a part of it.”
From a baseball perspective, Vogelbach has one of the more unique profiles of anyone in the league. The first thing anyone will notice is his physical size, which is capable of producing majestic home runs, but he is also the most patient hitter in the league. Among all MLB players who have made 250 plate appearances this season, Vogelbach has swung at the lowest percentage of pitches. With a 31.9% swing percentage, the newest Met is even more prudent than Juan Soto, the modern poster child of plate discipline.
“Obviously, sometimes it hurts me,” Vogelbach said of his discerning eye. “It’s something that I pride myself in. Getting the pitch that I want to hit, not the pitch that the pitcher wants me to hit.”
NIDO IS FINE
Despite taking a Max Scherzer fastball off the exposed part of his hand on Friday night, Tomas Nido was back in the lineup on Saturday night. The Mets’ trade for Pirates’ catcher Michael Perez led to speculation that Nido would need some time on the injured list, but judging by him getting the start on Saturday and his own pregame comments, everything seems to be first-rate.
“I’m leading the league in bruises,” said Nido, who the Mets diagnosed with a hand contusion. “I feel good, I tested it out, and I’m ready to go.”
The sixth-year catcher did say that he was a bit worried when the injury — which happened because he and Scherzer got crossed up on their signs — initially happened.
“As soon as it hit me, in the back of my head I was thinking the worst,” Nido admitted. “It was just numb at the beginning. I hit the next inning and felt fine. As the swelling started moving down the hand, I got concerned. We just wanted to rule out anything serious. This is a best-case scenario. I can play through the bruise. It’s fine.”
DEGROM AND MAY UPDATES
The most recent update on Jacob deGrom was that he’d throw on Sunday, see how he feels, then get sent out for one more rehab start before joining the Mets. Buck Showalter was asked on Saturday if that is still the plan.
“Yes. We’ll probably have to wait and see how he feels the next day. I think we’ll have an idea on Monday.”
Trevor May is also traveling to Binghamton and will throw an inning there on Sunday for the Mets’ Double-A team.