Thursday was Roberto Clemente Day across Major League Baseball.
With the Pittsburgh Pirates — Clemente’s old team — in town for a nationally televised game, the Mets and Pirates were the only teams in the league to have every player wear Clemente’s iconic number 21 on their backs. Every MLB team had a 21 patch on their jerseys on Thursday and Puerto Rican players as well as past nominees for the Roberto Clemente Award were also permitted to wear 21 instead of their regular number.
“It’s still sad to think about how he passed,” Buck Showalter said before the game. “But, it’s a great thing that baseball is doing.”
The manager also mentioned that several of the Mets’ players visited the Roberto Clemente Museum when the team was in Pittsburgh earlier this month. He also said that the special day slightly impacted his managerial decisions for Thursday.
“I was going to DH [Francisco] Lindor today until I reminded myself what tonight’s about,” Showalter said. “I thought he would want to be on the field, which he does.”
In addition to the special Clemente tribute on the field, the Mets also hosted several former winners of the Clemente Award for a pregame press conference. The award is given each year to a player who best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field. Each team nominates a player, with the winner announced during the World Series.
Past winners Al Leiter, Carlos Delgado, Curtis Granderson, Jim Thome, Steve Garvey, Harold Reynolds and Dave Winfield were at Citi Field on Thursday to talk about the significance of the award.
“It’s hard to put it into words,” said Delgado. “As a Puerto Rican kid growing up, you say, ‘We’re going to the Roberto Clemente Arena, or the Roberto Clemente Ballpark or Roberto Clemente Street. It’s super important, and I couldn’t be any happier today.”
Garvey was in the Dominican Republic when Clemente’s plane went down.
“When the word got out, I thought to myself as a relatively young person, what [Clemente] did was truly the ultimate sacrifice and a sacrifice of trying to help others,” Garvey recalled. “I said to myself, ‘I’m going to figure out how I can make a difference also.’”
“I played winter ball in Puerto Rico in 1985,” Reynolds added. “I got the full impact of Roberto Clemente. If you go to Puerto Rico, like Carlos was talking about, they might as well rename the whole island. Everything is about Roberto, but you start to learn the story of the man.”
“I came in the league in 1973,” Winfield said. “I knew who Roberto Clemente was and I was going to be a right fielder, so I watched the way he charged that ball, picked it up and threw people out. I wish we could have been able to test each other’s arms! But, he was an incredible player and an even more incredible human being.”
EATING GOOD IN SYRACUSE
Max Scherzer came out of his Wednesday night rehab start feeling well, per Showalter.
“He’s good,” Showalter said. “We’ll see how the work day goes. If everything goes well he’ll pitch on Monday. That’s what I’m hoping. He’s a little disappointed that they didn’t let him finish the fourth inning. What would a trip to Syracuse be without something?”
The biggest news out of the Syracuse clubhouse, though, was the post-game spread. It’s tradition for big leaguers to spoil the minor leaguers with a lavish meal after the game, but apparently Scherzer went above and beyond.
“They were talking about the post-game meals. They wanted to know if Max wanted to make another start down there. I guess the meal he got for those guys at the game last night was second to none. Max said it was real expensive. Believe me, I’ve known some people who make a lot of money that didn’t do that.”
PETERSON IN THE PEN
David Peterson will move to the bullpen.
After getting steamrolled by the Cubs on Wednesday — Peterson recorded just one out before being pulled — the plan is to have him slide to a bullpen role to accommodate Scherzer’s return.
“Right now we think that he’ll be available in the bullpen on Friday or Saturday,” Showalter said. “He only threw 29 pitches last night. That was one good thing out of last night, we get him back in the bullpen earlier.”
The last time Peterson pitched out of the bullpen, which came on July 27 against the Yankees, he needed just eight pitches to blow the Mets’ lead.
“How’s he going to respond?,” Showalter wondered aloud. “If he throws 18 pitches to three hitters, is he going to be able to scratch his rear the next day? I don’t know.”
Source: Berkshire mont