PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Big Mike is in camp!
Mike Piazza is back with the New York Mets, working as a spring training instructor.
“This is fun for me,” the 12-time All-Star said Monday. “I’m blessed to have these opportunities to do this on a part-time basis. I don’t know what the future holds; I’m just enjoying the day. It’s fun to be back in uniform and be around the clubhouse. And I feel like I have a lot to teach.”
Piazza is tutoring Travis d’Arnaud and the team’s other catchers.
“Obviously, I feel like I got a lot out of my abilities when I played, so if I can just talk to some young guys and maybe put a little thought to help advance their careers, it’s very rewarding.”
The 45-year-old hit .308 with 427 homers with 1,355 RBIs during a 16-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, Mets, San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics. He received votes on 62.2 percent of Hall of Fame ballots in voting announced in January, 49 shy of the 75 percent necessary for induction.
Piazza has worked with the Italian national team as a hitting coach and was invited by the Mets in September.
“I’m not a real aggressive coach,” he said. “The way I was taught is just talk hitting and talk philosophy, approach at the plate, getting a good pitch. It’s kind of simple. It’s not very technical, it’s not the way I learned.”
D’Arnaud grew up in Lakewood, Calif. rooting for the Dodgers, and he idolized Piazza.
“It’s a dream,” d’Arnaud said. “I loved how he hit, and I loved how pitchers loved throwing to him, so I tried to transfer that to my game when I was a little kid.”
Piazza said d’Arnaud has all the necessary tools.
“No. 1 for him is just to stay healthy, to be consistent, try to stay off the roller-coaster the game can be sometimes,” Piazza said. “You don’t always have to get a big hit, if you can go out and catch a good ballgame, block a pitch with the tying or winning run on third.”
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