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Mets put on clinic for Special Olympics athletes

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Steven Matz extended his arm outward, his index and middle fingers curved over the baseball's seams. "No, no, that's a two-seam grip," Jacob deGrom said to one of Matz's pupils, rotating the ball. "You want to do it like this, a four-seamer."

Across Tradition Field on Sunday, Neil Walker and Wilmer Flores were teaching another group of children how to field grounders and throw to second base. In the outfield, Eric Campbell and Brandon Nimmo were throwing popups. At first base, Dominic Smith taught footwork. In an indoor batting cage, Kevin Plawecki showed kids how to hit off a tee.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Steven Matz extended his arm outward, his index and middle fingers curved over the baseball's seams. "No, no, that's a two-seam grip," Jacob deGrom said to one of Matz's pupils, rotating the ball. "You want to do it like this, a four-seamer."

Across Tradition Field on Sunday, Neil Walker and Wilmer Flores were teaching another group of children how to field grounders and throw to second base. In the outfield, Eric Campbell and Brandon Nimmo were throwing popups. At first base, Dominic Smith taught footwork. In an indoor batting cage, Kevin Plawecki showed kids how to hit off a tee.

Tweet from @AnthonyDiComo: More scenes from the #Mets' Special Olympics clinic today. Was a really cool scene. pic.twitter.com/yPu0gQSZ82

All told, the group was more than 100 strong, consisting of Special Olympics athletes from up and down Florida's Treasure Coast. For two hours, more than a dozen Mets players ran a baseball clinic for those athletes, lighting the air up with laughs and shrieks of delight.

"It's every kid's dream, and these kids are no different than anybody else," Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson said. "They all enjoy watching the game. They enjoy being out on the field and they enjoy playing. They get a chance to do all of that today, so it's a great moment and experience. Hopefully we just get a chance to put smiles on their faces and bring some joy."

Participants ranged from 4 years old to adulthood. Following a meet-and-greet with David Wright, Granderson and Mike Piazza in the stadium's entrance-way, they all spilled out onto the field, where a large chunk of the Mets' Spring Training roster -- including celebrity pitchers Matz, deGrom and Noah Syndergaard -- was waiting. St. Lucie County administrators also joined players on the field, as veterans including Walker and Buddy Carlyle began teaching.

"This is beyond amazing," Special Olympics regional director Jeff Hancock said. "The opportunities that our athletes in the Special Olympics have because of the New York Mets bringing this clinic in is unbelievable. This is once-in-a-lifetime for anybody, let alone an athlete with the Special Olympics. I cannot say it enough: Thank you, New York Mets, for allowing us out here today."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

 

New York Mets