Herrera happy to be back with the Mets

Callaway stresses playoff experience, hunger; Hechavarria deal made official

February 18th, 2019

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- When arrived in the Mets' clubhouse this spring, he broke into a wide grin, hugging and several others. Perhaps no one was more excited to walk into the room than Herrera, a once-promising prospect the Mets dealt to the Reds as part of the trade in July 2016.

After two and a half years in the Reds organization, Herrera became a free agent this winter and signed back with the Mets, where he offers the club depth at four different positions. A natural second baseman, Herrera began playing first, third and left field last year in an effort to increase his value.:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I'm ready to do whatever," Herrera said. "That gives you a chance to be in the lineup everywhere. If you can play third, you're going to be at third one day. If you can play the outfield, you're going to be in the outfield one day. They're going to use you a lot."

Most likely, Herrera will begin the year at Triple-A Syracuse, given the Mets' glut of veteran infielders in big league camp. Struggling through right shoulder issues early in his Reds tenure, Herrera underwent 2017 surgery to remove bone chips from the joint. He rebounded to hit .297 with an .832 OPS last year at Triple-A Louisville, but could not translate that success to the Majors, batting .184 with a .682 OPS in 53 games there.

"First, I was feeling a little bit confused," Herrera said of his trade to the Reds. "I didn't understand what was happening. But I understand this is a business. You never know where you'll go. The only important thing was staying mentally strong so I could keep going."

Still just 24 and back with friends and familiar faces in the Mets' clubhouse, Herrera is hoping he can rejuvenate his career in a place he feels comfortable.

"Everything is the same -- same people, same teammates -- and that makes me feel happy again," he said. "I feel really excited, man. I feel glad to be here again, being here in this uniform. That makes me feel happy."

Seeking October

At one point during a team meeting prior to the Mets' first full-squad workout Monday, manager Mickey Callaway asked everyone in the room with playoff experience to stand. That included newcomers such as (seven playoff appearances), (four) and (three), as well as several members of the 2015 Mets.

Callaway reminded the players and coaches in the room that all together, they had accumulated more than 100 appearances in World Series games. He urged the veterans to keep those expectations at the forefront of their minds, and the youngsters to stay hungry for such opportunities.

"The good part is the type of players we have in there, they probably didn't even need it," Callaway said. "They were already doing the things we talked about in there, and they've been doing it quite a while."

Signing official

Shortstop arrived at Mets camp early Monday morning to take a physical. A few hours later, the Mets made his signing to a Minor League deal official. Hechavarria will be in uniform for the first time Tuesday, as the 65th player the Mets have brought to camp. That group includes a cadre of veterans on Minor League deals, including Hechavarria, Davis, Blanco and others.

"Not just Hechavarria -- it's every position we addressed this winter with depth," Callaway said, lauding the pieces that general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has added. "We're going to continue to add depth where we see fit. I think Brodie's done a great job of adding in those places, so if anything bad happens, we can withstand that."

On the mend

Two and a half weeks after undergoing major back surgery, Keith Hernandez showed up at Mets camp for his 14th season as an SNY broadcaster. Hernandez said he was able to start walking a day after the operation, which he hopes will eliminate much of the pain he has experienced since as far back as his playing days.