Curtis Granderson sat in the front row on Delta Flight 9706, bound Tuesday morning from JFK to JFK, a no-turbulence trip. The massive 767 never got airborne. The pilot just took it for about a 20-minute drive to the “Holiday in the Hangar” at the far reaches of the airport, deemed the “North Pole.”
Granderson deplaned, and then the 150 kids on board from P.S. 29 in Queens were greeted below by the perpetually friendly Mets rightfielder, among others, at this annual party of food, music, activities and “plane rides” staged by Delta and the YMCA of Greater New York.
“One kid got off and said, ‘This is so awesome, isn’t it?’ ” Granderson said. “He was telling his little buddy. So that’s the cool thing to get a chance to be a part of.”
Now he’s looking forward to greeting the new middle infield of second baseman Neil Walker and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. The defending NL champs will need quality contributions from them. Granderson, coming off a 33-double, 26-home run regular season and a .283, 12-RBI postseason, knows the score for the new guys and the old guys.
“The target will definitely be on our back,” Granderson said. “Case in point, you look at what Washington has done the last couple of years. You come into a season knowing that you could potentially be one of the favorites to win your division. You definitely can’t take it lightly or for granted.”
Cabrera was a free agent; Walker was acquired from Pittsburgh.
“He always beat us, especially in Pittsburgh,” Granderson said. “I’m excited to have another versatile player that he brings to us, both offensively and defensively. And then with Cabrera, another guy I’ve gotten a chance to play against a lot that’s been very good on so many different aspects, from hitting and defense . . . ”
With Yoenis Cespedes still looking unlikely to return, Granderson said, “You could always use more offense.”
This was also the day Granderson got his brace taken off. He tore a ligament in his left thumb during Game 3 of the NLCS and had surgery Nov. 3.
“We’re good to go,” Granderson said. “Offseason workouts have already begun.”
Asked how he hit three homers in the World Series with the tear, Granderson said, “Since it was my top hand, it actually didn’t bother me. If it was my bottom hand, I might not have been able to play.”