Well it took less than a week before the Mets required reinforcements, as righthander Paul Sewald was recalled from AAA Las Vegas following last night’s game and reserve Ty Kelly designated for assignment.
And though we feared that recent history would result in Sewald retaining the ghastly No. 79 he wore during spring training, good sense prevailed and Sewald will suit up in the somewhat less controversial No. 51, last seen on the back of Jim Henderson last year, Jack Leathersich the year before, bullpen predecessors Rick White, Mike Maddux, and Mel Rojas, and a ton of coaches. Fun fact: The only position player ever to appear in a Mets game wearing No. 51 was Lance Johnson in a one-game issue on Mookie Wilson Day in September of 1996 (Mookie, then a coach, and Johnson, then wearing No. 1, switched for the occasion). Johnson had three hits including a triple that day.
For the Mets the move to 13 pitchers would presumably give additional hitting opportunities for little-used bench guys like Michael Conforto and T.J. Rivera, but I’d suspect the move has more to do with the unsteady performance of the low-end bullpen guys like Josh Smoker and Rafael Montero and the fact that there’s just 2 off-days among the next 32. Eventually, I’d like to see Brandon Nimmo get that Ty Kelly role but he’s I guess we have to get through this next batch and see what happens. At any rate, we need to hit more.
Ty never got back to me on my suggestion he switch to No. 11, by the way. I’m telling you right now, it’s harder to DFA a guy wearing 11 than a guy wearing 56. Think of your career, man.
The Mets’ experiment using Rafael Montero in a one-off start wasn’t a complete failure, but it’s over for now, and Montero is on his way back to Las Vegas. In his places comes Jack Leathersich, a promising chubby lefthanded bullpen strikeout artist making his first appearance in the majors.
Leathersich will become the 23rd man to wear No. 51 but just the fifth position player: It’s a number more closely associated with coaches who wore it exclusively until Mike “He was a Met?” Maddux broke the seal in 1993. It’s since been worn by Mel Rojas and Rick White — like Maddux, they were veteran bullpenners whom the Mets rode hard — and in a one-off deal by Lance Johnson on Mookie Wilson Day in 1996. (Wilson, then coaching in 51; swapped numbers with Johnson that day. Johnson had three hits including a double and a triple that day and so dominates the offensive stats in 51).
The rest of Area 51 are coaches: Roy McMillan wore it while riding out the string managing the 1975 Mets for fired manager Yogi Berra. Pitching guru Rick Peterson reportedly wore 51 but kept it hidden under his buttoned-up jacket for four-and-a-half years. Most recently it went to another influential coach, Dave Hudgens, whose unorthodox hitting philosophy seems to had made a star of Lucas Duda and a pariah of Daniel Murphy. Other noted 51 coaches: Chip Hale, who I was rooting for to get the Met managerial job that went to Terry Collins; Cookie Lavagetto, an original Met coach; and Wes Westrum, who’d switch to No. 9 upon being named Casey Stengel’s successor.
Welcome aboard Jack!
Twitter caught fire this morning with reports that Travis d’Arnaud was changing his uniform number, from 15 to 7. While I haven’t seen official confirmation yet, it appears the source is an especially revealing e-commerce site: The team’s own order-your-own-‘official’-jersey offer (only $267.99!!).
The drop-down has plenty more to say that’s not yet on the official roster page, including assignments for newcomers John Mayberry Jr. (44); Sean Gilmartin (36); Jack Leathersich (51); Steven Matz (32); and Noah Syndergaard (34). A few other guys on the 40-man are listed in 00, which we’ll assume are unassigned still — Akeel Morris and Gabriel Ynoa. (Leathersich is also listed in 00, while Hansel Robles isn’t listed at all. Neither are the gaggle of NRIs who typically get Spring assignments in the 60s, 70s and 80s).
We may be jumping the gun on at least some of the actual assignments. If d’Arnaud is indeed changing to 7, we’d presume Mayberry would take the vacant 15, which he wore for several years with the Phillies, rather than 44, which technically still belongs to 2014 Met and 2015 non-roster invitee Buddy Carlyle. The switch to 7 would also require that bench coach Bob Geren changes into something else, not that that’s a big deal. We’ve also heard, from a reader, that incoming hitting coach Kevin Long will wear No. 30, but still have no confirmation of that.
The move to 7 will reignite a battle for the all-time lead in hits by a single uniform number: Though 7 and occupants Ed Kranepool and Jose Reyes maintains its longtime, all-time lead, Team 5 led by David Wright as of the end of last season had pulled to within 3 hits.
Typically we’re at the time of year when such info drops officially so we expect to see the roster populate soon and answer — at least for now — the burning questions.