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April 18, 2019

Al Leiter hell-bent on kicking off new Mets era

March 17, 2019

WEST PALM, Fl. – The timing was right for Al Leiter.

Animated as ever, Leiter arrived at camp on Sunday in the capacity of his first front-office role upon enrolling with Brodie Van Wagenen’s special advisor cabinet.

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“It was like coming back to a place that was home, literally,” Leiter said. “And it felt right.”

The Mets are the only team Leiter wants to work for after spending seven years pitching for the organization from 1998-2004. Leiter, 53, hopes to add a unique voice to the baseball operations conversations.

The team announced Leiter will serve as a special advisor to the Mets earlier this month. His responsibilities include a focus on scouting and player development with an emphasis on mental preparation for pitchers, alongside talent evaluation.

“There’s no other organization that would make sense than the Mets,” Leiter said. “I loved playing here. I had the majority of my success here with the Mets. And it’s the right thing. There’s no other option.”

Al Leiter (L) was hell-bent on joining Brodie Van Wagenen’s team. (AP)

Leiter left his 12-year gig in the Yankees YES Network booth as a color commentator and analyst over the winter, and quickly called Van Wagenen to congratulate him on becoming the Mets new general manager. Leiter said he first met Van Wagenen when he was still playing for the Mets, but that offseason phone call got the ball rolling on what ended up a partnership.

The 53-year-old said there’s a direct correlation between Van Wagenen leading the front-office staff and Leiter returning to his favorite childhood team.

“The TV stuff has been fun, but I’ve been itching to want to get more involved with baseball operations,” Leiter said. “Brodie has given me that opportunity.”

The two-time World Series champion said the first thing he did when he accepted the job was research the Mets top 30 prospects. Leiter said he looked at as many videos as possible in order to help the team’s farm system.

“It was like coming back to a place that was home, literally. And it felt right.”


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Leiter is exuberant to work with the Mets rotation, specifically, in a mental capacity. He said while his arsenal may not have been elite, his mindset and ability to let things roll off his shoulders is what led to his pitching success.

“I had a good mental game plan,” Leiter said. “It’s such a fragile, vulnerable spot to be on a 10-inch mound in the center of the field. Everybody is looking at you. And if you’re doing it, it’s great. And if you’re not, there’s nowhere to hide. It’s a scary spot to be sometimes.”

The two-time All-Star said he missed the instruction and hands-on aspect of baseball while he opined from the booth. Leiter said he’s looking forward to contributing to what is shaping up to be an intriguing Mets season. .

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