PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A tiny scar is the only remnant of Curtis Granderson’s offseason surgery. And that’s good news for the Mets and Granderson, arguably the team’s most valuable player during last year’s run to the World Series.
“The hand’s all good,” said Granderson, who underwent a procedure last November to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Granderson, 34, didn’t garner the same attention as some of his teammates when the Mets won their first pennant since 2000 last season. But he stayed injury-free and turned in his best season since hitting 43 homers for the Yankees in 2012.
Granderson hit .259 with 26 homers and 70 RBIs in 157 games, a strong bounce-back from his first season with the Mets. Perhaps just as important, he gave the Mets a viable option in the leadoff spot.
Though not a conventional leadoff man, Granderson filled the role well, posting a .364 on-base percentage helped by a career-high 91 walks. It’s likely that he will reprise his role as a table-setter, even though his run-producing skills also would suit him well in the middle of the order.
“It’s a mix,” Granderson said, noting that other teams have found success with non-traditional leadoff types. “You’re not up there just trying to walk, just trying to bunt, just trying to hit the ball on the ground. I think you have some guys that can do some damage at the top of the lineup that hopefully sets the tone for the rest of the guys.”
Setting the tone extends beyond the lineup for Granderson. He reached the World Series with the Tigers in 2006, but it would be nine seasons before he returned to the Fall Classic.
With the Mets expected to contend again, it’s a point he brought up Monday.
“When you do have success like that, the target on your back gets bigger,” Granderson said. “The big thing I would say is don’t be content with what happened and don’t assume that just because things have gotten to the point of where they are — you return a lot of the key pieces from the successful team of last year — that things are just going to fall into place.”
Signs of those expectations presented themselves Monday. Though workouts won’t officially begin until Friday, a contingent of fans gathered outside of the players’ parking lot hoping to catch a glimpse of them leaving the complex.
“I’m sure spring training will be a little busier than last year, which will be good,” said Granderson, who stopped to sign autographs on his way out of Tradition Field. “I’m excited to see that.”