PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — To help shape their future, the Mets are looking to their past.
The team named former Mets standouts Al Leiter and John Franco as baseball operations advisers Monday, a brand-new gig for Leiter and an expanded one for Franco, who also is a club ambassador.
The former pitchers will help with scouting and player development. Leiter will focus on pitchers’ mental preparation throughout the minors and majors; Franco will work with pitchers more generally. Both sometimes will hang around the big-league team and have a voice in organizational decisions, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. They will be in camp soon to meet coaches, coordinators and players.
Leiter recently quit the YES Network but still works for MLB Network. This is his first time as an employee of any team since 2005, when he pitched for the Yankees and Marlins.
“He feels a connection to the organization. He had a lot of success here,” Van Wagenen said. “I think being a local guy [born in Toms River, New Jersey] who had success with the Mets, this seemed like the right time in his life to where he was interested in being involved with one organization. He brings an energy every day. He has purpose to what he says, and both of those guys are going to do a lot of player development with us.”
Van Wagenen said these roles began to materialize when he spoke with Leiter and Franco during his first couple of weeks on the job.
“It was our belief in him to add real value, that this wasn’t just a name on a business card or a token hire,” Van Wagenen said of Leiter, a Met from 1998-2004. “We really think Al can come in and be a real positive influence on a lot of our players and help us make good decisions on roster construction as well.”
Franco, who pitched for the Mets from 1990-2004, will be in camp starting Monday. Leiter will arrive March 17.