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April 20, 2019

Mike Piazza takes a break from drinking the vino to come to Mets camp and praise Brodie Van Wagenen’s bold vision

February 27, 2019

PORT ST. LUCIE – Mike Piazza fully supports the bold vision Brodie Van Wagenen is bringing to Flushing.

The 50-year-old New York legend traveled from his new home in Parma, Italy to reprise his annual role of catching instructor at Mets camp on Tuesday.

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Piazza caught up with Van Wagenen before traveling to Port St. Lucie and the catcher said sometimes life favors the bold. Van Wagenen is taking a major risk by transitioning from a comfortable CAA agent to the new general manager of a big-market team that has finished fourth in the NL East in back-to-back seasons.

“Sometimes in life, you find your comfort zone and stay as far away from it as possible,” the Hall of Famer Piazza said on a day the Mets lost both of their split squad games against Detroit and Atlanta. “The fact that he’s willing to come into a situation that, let’s be honest, is a lot of pressure. A lot of expectations here.

“I think the fans are hungry for a team that will hopefully get into the postseason and beyond. I’m all for it. Results are results, a lot of this is a results-based business. There’s reason to be cautiously optimistic.”

Mike Piazza says he’s ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the Mets playoff chances this season. (Deesha Thosar/New York Daily News)

Piazza will spend a week with the team at spring training then make his way back to Italy, where his children are going to school. The catcher infamously owned a third-tier Italian soccer team, A.C. Reggiana, for two years before driving it into bankruptcy and selling it in 2018. Piazza called the venture a learning experience.

The 12-time All-Star said he welcomes the adjustments Van Wagenen made to both the personnel and players. Piazza said it’s a good sign that owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon are trying to strike a new combination to manufacture a team that can win. He said now, the challenge will be if a new staff can build good relationships and earn solid results quickly.

“The changes are shocking to me,” Piazza said. “You have to be bold, you have to take some risks. Sometimes just shake up the build in a way and bring in guys that are going to hopefully make an impact.”

Though he lives in Italy during his children’s school year and the summer, Piazza did not rule out buying or running a baseball team in the States. If he were to get more involved in a team organically, Piazza thinks his experiences can help people – even if it’s just as a “glorified consultant.”

But for now, he’s enjoying retirement.

“Drink the vino and munch on the pasta and enjoy the life,” Piazza said.

WHEELER NEEDS MECHANICAL ADJUSTMENT

The third hurler in the Mets regular-season rotation, Zack Wheeler allowed two runs on one hit with no strikeouts in his first Grapefruit League start. The right-hander said he needs to work on his mechanics, specifically his windup, in the coming days.

“Body felt fine. Arm felt fine. Just a little mechanically off,” Wheeler said. “Get that cleaned up and go from there.”

NIMMO IS BACK

A sore right shoulder pushed outfielder Brandon Nimmo’s Grapefruit League debut until Tuesday. He went 1-for-5 with a strikeout leading off as the Mets DH in the home game against the Tigers. Nimmo said he’s been working on his throws from 150 feet and feels content in his progression.

“Felt good,” Nimmo said. “No problems with (the shoulder). I got five at-bats and that’s a really good sign. I think the schedule is take a day off and be in the field the next day.”

Corey Oswalt
Corey Oswalt (John Raoux / AP)
ON THE MOUND

Corey Oswalt held the Braves to two shutout innings with two strikeouts to start the Mets road game on Tuesday. The 25-year-old is a good candidate to slide into New York’s rotation if one of the five starters gets injured this season. Oswalt posted a 3.07 ERA with 15 strikeouts in his final four starts of the 2018 season. … Relievers Jeurys Familia and Justin Wilson took the mound for the first time this spring against Detroit. Familia came in after Wheeler, holding the Tigers to two runs (unearned) on two hits and one strikeout over one inning. He passed the baton to Wilson, who gave up one earned run on one hit with a pair of strikeouts in his first time in a Mets uniform. … Right-handed reliever Robert Gsellman, who is expected to make the 25-man roster in the Mets’ bullpen, could not seem to find his rhythm on the hill. Gsellman allowed two earned runs on two hits plus a walk in the fifth inning against the Tigers.

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