Fresh off big game, Mets' Young visits Fan Cave
Accompanied by wife, Victoria, outfielder talks hustle, singing, Twitter and more
NEW YORK -- In the wee hours after his hustling highlight show was finished at Citi Field, Eric Young Jr. got into his car in the Mets players' lot, popped in some music and began to sing as he drove home. It might have been Trey Songz, Donell Jones or Boyz II Men, but that's kind of a blur.
"I do it so much now that I don't even realize that I'm probably singing," Young said. "I'm always in the car singing. That's actually the best time, my relax time, when I'm in the car and I've got my music on."
"He loves to sing," said his wife Victoria. "I don't know if people know he can sing. He's into all kinds of stuff. If you really want to make him choose, you could make him sing a boy-band song. He loves to sing. He's always in the car singing."
"I enjoy singing a bunch of songs, but I wouldn't say I have that great of a voice," Eric elaborated. "I can hold a tune a little bit. Just put it this way: They won't tell me to shut up if I start singing."
So now that we have established that Eric Young Jr. loves to sing, let's just be clear: There is a lot to sing about right now. He and Victoria were married in Phoenix right before the last Spring Training, when he was still with the Rockies. Now he has an opportunity in a Mets outfield that has been there for the taking in 2013, and Tuesday night he showed exactly how one seizes the moment.
Eric and Victoria each visited the MLB Fan Cave on Wednesday morning, and out of the hundreds of player visits there in these three years at Fourth Street and Broadway, no Major Leaguer ever came in after a better performance in the preceding hours. Young had robbed Todd Helton with a diving catch in left field to preserve a tie in the sixth inning, and then had scored from second on a slow roller to provide the decisive run in the eighth, as the Mets won, 3-2.
"It was a big game," Young said the morning after. "I think our team showed a lot of fight, and the way everything transpired there at the end, it was pretty exciting. I know I was excited, and my teammates were definitely excited. Hopefully, New York was excited, too."
The catch: "I knew it was a big situation in the game," he said. "Obviously if I check up and let that ball drop, two runs are scoring at least, because everybody's moving on contact. I just wanted to stop a big inning there. I know it was a risky play, but it turned out big for our team. I was pumped up, and I know Juan Lagares, our center fielder, he was screaming at me when I made the catch, so him and I both were pumped up."
The scamper: "I knew it was a slow roller. Obviously you're moving on contact with two outs. I knew the second baseman was going to make an all-out effort for that play to get the force on the runner at first base. So I know that if I'm hustling the whole way all the way around, they had to make two perfect throws. You have to make the perfect throw to first base, and then the first baseman had to make the perfect throw to home to get me. If they make both perfect throws, then tip your hat to them. If not, then what happens last night, I end up scoring there. It turned out huge for us, and we didn't have to go extra innings, which our team is known for this season."
Just as Mets fans hope their outfield is gaining respect, Young is hoping he can secure a place. He was acquired on June 18 for right-hander Collin McHugh, and since coming over to the Mets, he is hitting .270 (47-for-174) with 21 walks and 15 steals. Just last week, Young hit his first career walk-off homer, a two-run shot in the 11th to beat the Royals.
"Any player, all you can ask for is an opportunity to play every day," Young said. "I'm blessed with the opportunity here with the Mets, and I just want to take full advantage of it. I'm having a great time, I love it here. Fans have been great, the team has been great. Hopefully I'm here for a while."
When checking out the Mission Control powered by MLB.TV during his Fan Cave tour, Young asked: "Who leads the NL in team steals?" They pressed a button and it came up, and the Mets' total was a dissatisfying number to him. He hopes to help change that area, citing the need for speed.
"Definitely, and not just me," Young said. "The whole team, collectively, you want to put more pressure on the other team. When teams say they're going to play the New York Mets, we want to make sure that's an element they're going to have to prepare for. It just opens up a lot more holes for hitters, better pitches for hitters and gets more runners in scoring position. That element, I definitely want to bring it here to the Mets."
If you want to know more about the guy who seemed to be everywhere on Tuesday, just ask Victoria. She won't tell you his family nicknames, to save him from embarrassment, but she is more than happy to tell you about their new union in 2013. They met in Tucson, when she was attending the University of Arizona and he played spring games for the Rockies.
"We're just big goofballs," she said. "We're a weird married couple. I swear we're 10 years old. I mean, we run around the house and play tag. It's great here [at Fan Cave] for us."
"Yeah, I can see that," he added, saying that part of his personality extends to the clubhouse. "My teammates, I love messing with them. I love pressing buttons, but in the right way. Just to get people to smile and laugh. I guess that goes in tune with I like to encourage people and brighten people's days, so I do mess with people and be a big goofball to get those smiles daily."
Inspiring people and being inspired are his raison d'être on Twitter, where Young was one of the earliest adopters among pro players, as the familiar @EYJr.
"I like to throw out daily quotes to help people motivate them in their day, as well as looking forward to seeing the feedback from the fans," he said. "I know I'm blessed to play baseball, but at the same time, I'm still a fan of this great game, too. I love interacting with the fans who go about it the right way. Obviously not everybody out there is going to be great with their messages, but for those who liked to be encouraged and like to encourage, I love interacting with them."
Victoria said she does not work so that she can "keep him from worrying about things off the field." To that end, she said the midseason trade from Colorado was "more challenging for me than for him, but that's the way I want it to be."
"It's been great," he said. "She makes everything easy for me. She handles pretty much all the things that are off the field for me, so I can focus on the field. As a professional player and husband, that's all you can ask for."
Eric hopes they can stay in New York for awhile.
"That's more on the front office," he said. "Hopefully they will want to keep me here for a long time."