Mike Pelfrey reflects on life with/after Mets
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MINNEAPOLIS -- For 159 games this season, Mike Pelfrey will watch from afar, still a fan of the organization that drafted him, developed him and ultimately dumped him.
For 159 games, he will pull for the many friends who remain from his eight years in the Mets' organization, the same people he lunched with on Thursday afternoon, the same people he played cards with in the evening, the same people he dined with one night early this spring training.
But there will be no blurred allegiances this weekend when the Mets visit the Twins, who signed the former first-rounder.
"I hope we kick their butt for the next three days," Pelfrey said Friday before the start of a three-game series between the teams. "But for their other 159 games, I hope they win."
Pelfrey is not scheduled to pitch against his former team.
The righthander admitted how strange it was to leave New York, where he never lived up to the hype that came with his ninth overall selection in the 2005 draft. He saw the writing on the wall after undergoing Tommy John surgery last season, when he made $5.7 million.
The Mets would have been on the hook for at least that amount again this season -- his final year of arbitration. Instead, they non-tendered Pelfrey, officially ending the pitcher's tumultuous time with the organization.
"If I could have gone out and won every game, I would have done that," said Pelfrey, who signed a one-year, $4-million deal to join the Twins. "I know it didn't necessarily work out the way some people envisioned or the fans envisioned or even I envisioned or the organization. But I don't necessarily regret it because I know that off the field, I busted my tail and I gave everything I had."
Pelfrey faced scrutiny from the moment he slipped on a Mets uniform. He shouldered the expectations that now follow Matt Harvey and top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. But Pelfrey failed to live up to the hype.
"There's no greater place to win than in New York," said Pelfrey, who was called up in 2006, a year the Mets made the postseason. "But if you're going to fail, there's no worse place to fail. And unfortunately for me, I had a little more failure than I would have liked."
Pelfrey called his 2006 promotion one of his favorite memories with the Mets. But over the years, the memories turned bittersweet, leaving him hardened.
Pelfrey has embraced the change of scenery with the Twins. In Minneapolis, he faces far less scrutiny and far less pressure, a phenomenon he called "kind of refreshing."
Pelfrey maintains friendships in the Mets' organization. He insists he harbors no hatred, no grudges and, perhaps most importantly, no regrets about his time in New York.
"When he took the mound, he just competed," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
During the offseason, the Mets asked Pelfrey if he'd be interested in returning on a lesser deal. Collins saw the righthander as a possible reliever. He declined that offer and accepted a shot to make the Twins' rotation, content to experience life after the Mets.
"It didn't work out," said Pelfrey, who is 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA in his first two starts with the Twins. "It didn't work out as much as I would have wanted to or other people would have wanted. But I gave it my all."