Forced into action by a recent spate of injuries, the New York Mets' Mike Baxter has performed above expectations in his expanded role. Get to know this hometown kid.
Baxter, (34) standing second from left, attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens. In 2002 Baxter's team won the CHSAA city championship winning the title game at Shea Stadium. Baxter drove home the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly in a 5-2 victory.
The San Diego Padres selected Mike Baxter in the fourth round (128th overall) in the 2005 draft following his junior season at Vanderbilt. He made his Major League debut on Sept. 6, 2010 against the Los Angeles Dodgers but wouldn't get his first hit until 18 days later when he ripped a single off of the Reds' Francisco Cordero. Baxter's next hit wouldn't come until nearly a year later as a member of the Mets.
Baxter managed just 12 hits in 64 at-bats for the Bisons but still was called up to the Mets on Aug. 8, 2011. In his first at-bat, Baxter laced a pinch-hit RBI double in the bottom of the eighth that keyed a 9-8 comeback win against his former team, the San Diego Padres.
After a stint on the 60-day disabled list, Baxter (pictured with manager Terry Collins) was claimed off of waivers by the Mets on July 22, 2011. Baxter started out at single-A Port St. Lucie but quickly advanced to the triple-A Buffalo Bisons. In December 2011, Baxter was non-tendered by the Mets, but soon returned to his hometown team after signing a minor-league contract.
Jeremy Lin isn't the only New York athlete who's bummed a bed from family. In an interview with WFAN's Boomer and Carton, Baxter admitted that he and his wife had been living with Baxter's parents until the end of last season. Now, with a contract signed, Baxter and his wife have their own place. "It's incredible to have the opportunity to play a professional sport in your hometown. It's so unique. It's been a fun ride," Baxter added.
A lifelong Mets fan, Baxter told New York Magazine that the player he tries to emulate both on and off the field is former Mets first baseman John Olerud. "I would replicate his swing and pretty much the whole way he went about playing the game," Baxter said. "I always admired it. He played hard and had guts. He was somebody that I wanted to try to grow up to be like."
In 2011, during his first stint with the Mets, Baxter had just 34 at-bats with the team and hit .235. Despite the slow start, Baxter hit his first career home run during the last game of the season on Sept. 28 off of Cincinnati Reds' Edinson Volquez at Citi Field.
After his freshman year at Columbia, Baxter transferred to Vanderbilt in the fall of 2003. Following his junior season in 2005, when he hit .377 and led the SEC in stolen bases, Baxter was named the Commodores' team MVP.