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Straw virtually visits assisted-living facility

@AnthonyDiComo
July 29, 2020

NEW YORK -- The room was filled to capacity on Wednesday, with patients spaced six feet apart in all directions to watch the afternoon’s main event. When the screen flickered to life at Braemar at Medford, an assisted-living facility on Long Island, the residents had plenty to ask Darryl Strawberry.

NEW YORK -- The room was filled to capacity on Wednesday, with patients spaced six feet apart in all directions to watch the afternoon’s main event. When the screen flickered to life at Braemar at Medford, an assisted-living facility on Long Island, the residents had plenty to ask Darryl Strawberry.

They inquired about his favorite baseball player (Pete Rose), the toughest pitchers he ever faced (John Tudor and Nolan Ryan), and so much else regarding his 17-year career. Many of the residents were lifelong Mets fans, dressed in jerseys in anticipation.

“It’s so important to give back more than anything, because people are struggling, and their condition is so different than it’s ever been,” Strawberry said afterward. “Us as athletes, former athletes, we still have an opportunity to give back. [Our] time is nothing compared to what’s happening with so many people’s hearts. I think uplifting people, and inspiring people, and encouraging people during these difficult challenges makes all the difference in some peoples’ lives.”

Strawberry’s appearance was part of the Mets’ Amazin’ Alumni Series, hosted by Jay Horwitz, the team’s director of alumni relations. Last year, during his first summer in the role, Horwitz invited two former Mets per homestand to Citi Field to reconnect with the franchise and its fans. Unable to do that this year due to the coronavirus situation, Horwitz has instead been organizing virtual Q&As with tristate-area nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

In addition to Strawberry, alumni Ron Swoboda, John Franco and Turk Wendell have participated in calls.

“This is the way the Mets have come together,” Strawberry said. “It’s a great way to come together to reach fans and speak to fans. As a person, I think it’s my duty to be able to say yes.”

Roster move
The Mets swapped one backup outfielder for another on Wednesday, placing Jake Marisnick on the 10-day injured list with a strained left hamstring and replacing him with Ryan Cordell.

Marisnick was briefly sidelined late in Summer Camp due to a sore left hamstring, but he recovered quickly enough to make the Opening Day roster and appear in four of the first five games as a defensive replacement. New manager Luis Rojas has routinely taken to removing left fielder J.D. Davis for defensive reasons late in games, shifting Brandon Nimmo to left and inserting Marisnick in center.

But the hamstring continued to bother Marisnick in the early going.

To replace him, the Mets recalled Cordell, a Spring Training standout who was a late addition to the 60-man player pool. Like Marisnick, Cordell is an athletic right-handed hitter capable of playing all three outfield positions.

The move forced the Mets to make one other sacrifice. To clear space on the 40-man roster, the team designated right-handed pitcher Jordan Humphreys, their 14th-ranked prospect, for assignment. The Mets had added Humphreys to their roster in a surprise move last autumn to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft despite a consensus from the scouting community that he was unlikely to be selected by another team. Now, with starting pitching at a premium around baseball, Humphreys is a strong candidate to be claimed off waivers.

The Mets’ 18th-round pick in 2015, Humphreys missed the entire 2018 season and most of 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He returned last year in time to throw 11 2/3 sparkling innings in the Arizona Fall League.

Bigger responsibility
Rookie Andrés Giménez, the Mets’ third-ranked prospect, earned the first start of his career on Wednesday against the Red Sox. Giménez filled in at shortstop for Amed Rosario, who was receiving a routine night off.

Giménez’s first four career appearances were all as a defensive replacement or a pinch-hitter.

“You have to take that responsibility of the importance of the game,” Giménez said through an interpreter, “and give your best once you’re in there.”

Hey, I remember you!
Among the odder aspects of Jeremy Hefner’s first season as pitching coach? Instructing Jeurys Familia, who was his teammate on the 2012-13 Mets. Hefner and Familia combined for a three-hit shutout of the Pirates in September 2012, in what was the rookie season for both.

Now Hefner is Familia’s coach. He said that when he goes to eat in the Citi Field Delta Club, which has become a makeshift food room for the Mets, he sees a team picture featuring the two of them standing next to each other.

“It’s a little strange,” Hefner said. “Jeurys is such an incredible human being. He’s such a joy to be around. And then add on that he’s a good pitcher and has some really, really nasty stuff, it’s been really fun over the last six or seven months to get to know him better, and kind of rekindle that friendship that we had a few years ago.”

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.