Quick note: Thanks to reader Jondibrit (below) and others who checked in with eyewitness reports from Florida indicating Ken Oberkfell has been wearing No. 58, not 55 as listed on the Mets official roster (and assigned also to pitcher Chris Young). The report also noted there being ploenty of non-roster instructors on hand including minor league staffers Marc Valdes (74); Tim Tuefel (81); Ricky Bones (84) and Wally Backman (86). Number 0, who we’ve seen in some photos is minor-league catcher Jeff Glenn, according to Jondibrit.
Thanks as always for the updates. MBTN readers. If you’re in Florida and see some cool or stupid stuff, let us know!
The Mets on Monday named a pack of coaches to accompany new manager Terry Collins, including newcomers Jon Debus (bullpen coach); Ken Oberkfell (bench coach) and Dave Hudgens (hitting coach) and a returnee, first-base coach Mookie Wilson. They join returning third-base coach Chip Hale and pitching coach Dan Warthen. Do any of these men speak Spanish?
Uniform numbers have yet to be assigned to these guys but let’s start with the obvious: If the Mets can manage to get rid of Luis Castillo then No. 1 would be available for Mookie. The Mookster wore No. 51 as a coach in 1997 before No. 1 became available to him, and 51 most recently belonged to Mook’s cross-diamond counterpart, Chip Hale. So there’s some drama whatever happens.
I’m intrigued by the possibility of Ken Oberkfell donning No. 0, as he did when I snapped the above photo a few spring trainings ago. The idea of his being a foil and aide-de-camp for Collins wearing No. 10 makes sense, and if Mookie gets No. 1, well that’s even better. I have no idea and no real opinion on what numbers Hudgens and Debus show up in but it wouldn’t surprise me if they show up in 52 and 53 like Met coaches often do.
Word got out today that the Mets and Jerry Manuel are to make some changes to the coaching staff next season. Base coaches Ken Oberkfell and Luis Aguayo will be offered new positions within the organization after joining the Mets concurrent with the Willie Randolph firing this past June.
Aguayo’s replacement at third base will be none other than Razor Shines, a personal favorite of Jerry Manuel and of anyone who collects cool baseball names. Shines served to positive reviews under Manuel in Chicago — they were once both fringe infielders in the Expos’ organization — and appears to have a pretty good reputation. He wore No. 18 in Chicago.
The Mets also announced that Guy Conti would be reassigned and Met lifer Randy Niemann would return to the staff as bullpen coach.This would mark Niemann’s third stint with the major league staff — he served the same role under under Bobby Valentine and Art Howe, racking up three uni numbers (45, 48, 52) along the way. You might also not remember him as perhaps the least distinguished of the 1986 Mets– a lanky lefthanded reliever whose spotty Met career resulted in having worn Nos. 46 and 40 over parts of two seasons. That makes 5 unis so far, the overall record is in sight.
The Mets also said Thursday that hitting coach Howard Johnson; pitching coach Dan Warthen, and father-and-son staffers Sandy Alomar Sr. and Jr., would return to their roles with the Mets in 2009.
So we caught the Mets down in Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday, but despite having a great opportunity to chronicle strange and unusual uni numbers, I really didn’t. Sorry about that.
Part of it was that in addition to watching the Mets, I was watching my one-year-old climb the stadium steps and call out the row letters. Part of it was the realization that these weren’t even the Mets but parts of their A, AA and AAA rosters. Of the “regulars,” only Marlon Anderson (wearing No. 9); Ramon Castro and Jorge Sosaplayed, and those guys were through after 6 innings.
The names were as foreign as the numbers, which didn’t help me retain any of it. I mean, I can tell you I saw Nick Evans, Gregory Veloz, Ezequil Carerra, Mike Carp, Ruben Tejeda, Gustavo Molina, Nate Field and Joselo Diaz. I can also tell you I saw Nos. 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, and 97. Just tough to connect the two. Diaz was 74. Field was 66. Willie Collazo was 36, like last year. The thing that caught my attention was Ken Oberkfell, the AAA manager coaching 3rd base in this game, wearing No. 0. So we’ve got some speculative stuff to chew on in the event Willie gets fired.
Oh, and we won by the way, 4-1 over the Orioles.