A wild month for a baseball lifer: Mets bench coach Dave Jauss relishing his time in the spotlight
This month is but a speck in the history of the Mets, with a few wild losses, a few wilder wins, a pile of additional injuries and — next Friday — their first trade deadline as legitimate postseason contenders in a half-decade.
Maybe, just maybe, it’ll be remembered as The Month of Jauss.
Mets bench coach Dave Jauss, better known as Home Run Derby champion Pete Alonso’s pitcher and manager Luis Rojas’ fill-in, has enjoyed a moment — moments — in the spotlight that has revealed to the world what the Mets have known for months and what Rojas has known for much longer: This baseball lifer is an absolute delight.
"He has a beautiful mind and he has a beautiful eye for the game," Rojas said between games of his suspension this week. "I’m one of the lucky men in that clubhouse that gets a chance to learn from a guy like him. It’s good that a lot of people are noticing how valuable this man is not only for the Mets' organization, but for baseball. He’s impacted a lot of people."
Jauss, 64, has worked in professional baseball for 34 years, longer than anybody on the Mets’ active roster has been alive. He has been a major-league coach, minor-league manager, player-development executive and scout, among other roles, most of them largely anonymous, pieces of a club’s success but so far from the public eye that the past week-plus has been unlike anything before it.
"I’ve done more interviews in a week and two days," he said, "than I did in 33 years."
It became a full-blown media tour: MLB Network, The New York Times, Barstool’s "Pardon My Take" podcast, a bunch of radio shows in big cities and a local TV station in Naples, Florida, where he lives in the offseason with his wife, Billie, whom Jauss often works into conversation.
When Rojas was forced to sit out Monday and Tuesday for what MLB called "excessive arguing" with umpires Sunday, Jauss served as the Mets’ manager. That included during postgame news conferences, still of the video variety.
Jauss was downright jubilant upon taking a seat in the Zoom room early Tuesday morning after an 11-inning win against the Reds.
"It’s the first time I’ve done one of these in five months," Jauss said.
He raised both arms in the air and was basically yelling — enthusiastically, not angrily. Such is Jauss’ frequent tone. The highlights were many.
On appearing to be in a very good mood after a bonkers Mets' 15-11 win: "Oh, I’m always happy."
On not revealing which relievers were unavailable, because maybe it is a competitive advantage: "Luis teaches me stuff."
On the game taking nearly five hours: "I thought it was, like, an hour-and-a-half game. Was it that long? The concession stand must’ve made a whole lot of money tonight. Oh my gosh."
The next night, before any questions, Jauss began with an admission of ignorance: He didn’t know it was broadcast live (or almost live).
"I’m glad I didn’t say anything inappropriate," he said. "I learned last night. We all learn something every day, and I was able to learn something last night from my wife."
The big test came a few minutes later when he was asked for an injury update, a source of consternation for team officials even in seemingly innocuous instances. Starter Robert Stock had left the game with a hurt hamstring after pitching one inning.
Between the final pitch and his Zoom, Jauss was briefed on Stock’s status. And he took notes.
"It is a right hamstring injury," Jauss said on camera, looking down at a piece of paper and repeating what the Mets already had revealed. "And there’s going to be a follow-up tomorrow."
He looked up again with his usual big smile. Nailed it. Time to go back off script.
"This is my first time handling these situations," he said. "We don’t know how serious — and I definitely don’t know how serious. My wife’s a nurse. She’s got a medical background. My medical background is I stay away from doctors."
Jauss, the Mets’ bench coach under Jerry Manuel in 2010, was working as a Yankees scout when the Mets — and Rojas — chose him as bench coach over the offseason. Rojas wanted him in part because of his longstanding relationship with the family. Jauss was a coach for Rojas’ father, Felipe Alou, in Single-A West Palm Beach in 1989-91.
Rojas was 7 years old that first season.
"He was a tremendously fun young man," Jauss said. "He was a fun young boy, always getting into mischief. He was funny. He was in everybody’s locker."
The affection is mutual. Rojas spoke admiringly of Jauss, calling him "a machine" who "makes it look really, really easy." Oh, and he drinks 10-12 cups of coffee per day.
"Black," Jauss confirmed. "My wife would say more, but I do average in the double digits. Keeps me hydrated."
Dave Jauss' extensive resume:
1982-84: Coach at Westfield (Mass.) State
1985-87: Coach at Atlantic Christian College (Wilson, N.C.)
1988: GCL Expos manager
1989-91: Single-A West Palm Beach (Expos) coach
1992: West Palm Beach manager
1994: Double-A Harrisburg manager
1995: Orioles coordinator of instruction
1996-2005: Red Sox coach, scout, administrator
2006-07: Dodgers bench coach
2008-09: Orioles bench coach
2010: Mets bench coach
2011: Mets’ coordinator of staff development
2012: Pirates special assistant to the GM
2013-19: Pirates coach
2020: Yankees professional scout
2021: Mets bench coach