LAS VEGAS -- The pair of surgeries, the hours of rehab, the endless throwing sessions -- all of it became worth it Friday morning when Terry Collins called Jim Henderson into his office and informed the veteran reliever he had made the Mets.
"It's pretty exciting," said Henderson, the former Brewers closer who regained his mid-90s velocity this spring following nearly two full seasons out of baseball. "The last two years were pretty grueling for me with the second shoulder surgery and battling back from it last year. I'm really excited right now, definitely."
After Henderson underwent his second career shoulder surgery in 2014, rehabbing in the Brewers' organization for most of the next summer, the righty wondered if he would ever pitch in the big leagues again. His chance came when he became a Minor League free agent after the season and hooked on with the Mets, who were intrigued by the 28 saves and 2.70 ERA he produced during his last full season in 2013.
Still testing his shoulder into this spring, Henderson stayed cautious on the mound early in Grapefruit League games. But his arm kept bouncing back without issue. So by mid-March, he decided to "let it go a little bit more, really get aggressive." The mid-90s heat returned.
"And it bounced back after that as well," Henderson said, "so I was pleased."
Still, it seemed unlikely Henderson would make the team on Opening Night due to the Mets' desire to carry one fewer reliever and one extra bench player. When they abandoned those plans, Henderson was the beneficiary, joining a bullpen that also includes Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Antonio Bastardo, Jerry Blevins, Hansel Robles and Logan Verrett.
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"Any time you have an injury or you go through that process, I always told myself that I owe it to myself to keep playing and keep battling," Henderson said. "Coming in to the offseason, I didn't know whether I was going to be in independent ball or have any kind of contract, but I knew I was going to play. I knew I was going to give it all I have for the next year, and I'm happy it led to this point."