PHOENIX -- Following a tough 2020 season, Mason Williams wasn’t on a team when Opening Day arrived in '21. But the 29-year-old outfielder held out hope that one would come calling.
“Looking for a job, staying in shape, keeping myself occupied and busy, but honestly, it was a little dry,” Williams said. “After last season -- I mean, 2020 was just not a great year for a lot of people -- but there wasn’t much happening at the time. I was just staying persistent and working out in the gym.”
On April 15, Williams signed a Minor League deal with the Mets. Then, he went to work.
Over 19 games with Triple-A Syracuse, Williams batted .373/.458/.569 with seven doubles, one home run and eight RBIs. With New York constantly putting players on the injured list over the first two months -- there are 13 currently on the IL -- it was only a matter of time before Williams would get an opportunity to return to the Majors.
Williams was called up prior to Monday’s 6-2 win over the D-backs at Chase Field. He started in center field and went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk. He also made a tough catch to end the seventh inning, taking away a hit from Domingo Leyba while tumbling into the wall.
On Tuesday, Williams was back in the lineup, again in center and batting eighth. He says he wants to keep his approach simple in his first opportunity to impress the Mets at the big league level.
“I’m just trying to be me, really,” Williams said. “I want to be myself and stay consistent and contribute in any way -- offensively, defensively and just help the team win games.”
Entering 2021, Williams had six years of MLB experience, playing in small stints with the Yankees, Reds and Orioles. He played 10 games for Baltimore during the shortened '20 campaign, going 2-for-18 with a triple and nine strikeouts.
Williams had better results in the past. In 2018, he played 51 games for Cincinnati and slashed .293/.331/.398 with eight extra-base hits and six RBIs.
The Mets designated Cameron Maybin for assignment on Monday after the veteran outfielder went 1-for-28 in nine games. And with Kevin Pillar (facial surgery to repair nose fractures) still being eased back into action, Williams is getting an opportunity to carry over his Minor League success.
“A guy that’s been swinging the way he’s been swinging with Major League experience -- he’s a guy that can help us right now,” manager Luis Rojas said.
Despite all the injuries New York has endured, it entered June in first place in the National League East. The Mets have continued to successfully fill their roster holes by utilizing players from the Minors, with Williams being the latest.
And Williams is excited to join a team that looks to remain atop the standings throughout the summer.
“We’re definitely keeping it extremely positive in here right now,” Williams said. “I think the guys are in a good spot, and I think everyone understands their role and their job here. And again, I think the energy’s great.”