Curtis Granderson wasn’t sure how things would play out for him after the 2017 season ended. He’d spent 14 seasons in the big leagues, including the four with the Yankees that ended after 2013, and then almost all of the next four with the Mets. He knew he’d be turning 37 and couldn’t gauge whether there would be opportunities for him to keep playing.
There was and he signed with the Blue Jays in January for one season at $5 million.
On Tuesday and Wednesday he was back in the familiar environs of Citi Field as Toronto and the Mets split a two-game series that ended with the Jays’ 12-1 win.
The Mets honored Granderson — part of the 2015 and 2016 postseason teams — with a tribute video before Tuesday’s game and he received a warm ovation when he led off the first. He got another one of those on Wednesday as he started a 2-for-4 afternoon with a pair of doubles and a pair of runs scored. It’s still early for the Toronto leadoff man, but his .276 average and a .915 OPS look very good.
“It was a lot of fun. It gave me a chance to come where I’ve been for the past four years and seeing a lot of familiar faces, from the behind the scenes people . . . to the people on the field and some in the stands,” Granderson said. “Getting to come back for these two days has been really cool.
“[The video] was exciting. I didn’t expect that. It’s really cool the organization decided to do that. They definitely didn’t have to. And the fans’ response and reaction has been great. I came here knowing that I’d be here for four years and hoping for opportunities to play at a very high level, which we were able to do. . . . and get to the playoffs twice.”
The Jays envisioned Granderson as most effective in a platoon, but injuries have made him a regular. Nevertheless, manager John Gibbons said “Curtis is having a great year . . . he’s gotten some big, big hits. When he’s leading off, he really works pitchers, he draws walks, he’s a tough out. He knows how to play that job — he’s done it for years. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Gibbons couldn’t pinpoint why Granderson has hit for a higher average than in the last few years but said “he gives you a great at-bat every time.”
And Granderson seems very happy with his lot after signing with Toronto.
“My whole goal for the 2018 season was have fun [and] try to help this team out in any way possible, so we can be in a position to play our way into October,” he said. “That’s been the goal, that’s what I am trying to do and this team makes it easy.”