Devin Mesoraco stood at his locker in the Mets’ clubhouse before Tuesday night’s game at Citi Field, wearing a wrap on his bruised and swollen left elbow. The catcher was hit by a Miami Marlins backswing in Monday night’s series opener.
But he shed the wrap, flew out as a pinch hitter in the seventh and caught the last two innings in the Mets’ 5-1 loss. He’s due to return to the lineup in Wednesday night’s series finale.
That’s good news for the Mets. Mesoraco’s professionalism and power have made an impact on this team so far.
They acquired the 29-year-old righthanded hitter from Cincinnati in exchange for Matt Harvey on May 8 after Travis d’Arnaud’s season-ending elbow injury and Kevin Plawecki’s broken hand created a void dating to the first half of April. When Mesoraco has been behind the plate, the staff has pitched well. How well? Try a 2.03 ERA in his seven starts, which have come with five victories.
Not that Mesoraco will take a bow.
“The guys have thrown the ball really well,” he said. “I don’t know that I deserve a lot of credit for that. I’m not like some pitch-calling wizard. I just put some work in. But those guys are out there throwing the ball. For some of them, you catch Noah [Syndergaard] or Jacob [deGrom], you could have an empty net catch those guys and they’re going to get those people out.”
Still, he has drawn raves, including from deGrom, about how he helps prepare the starters for opposing lineups. He watches video, checks out the pitchers’ history against batters and puts a plan together. It’s something in which he takes great pride.
The Mets even brought up catcher Tomas Nido from Las Vegas on Saturday to learn the Mesoraco way until Plawecki returns from a rehab assignment that’s scheduled to start Wednesday.
“Getting his report that he does definitely gives me a little bit more information about their guys and how to pitch in certain situations,” Nido said after starting in the Mets’ win over Arizona Sunday.”
Mesoraco dealt with a long list of injuries the previous three seasons. The 2014 All-Star is still trying to find his old form at the plate. But while his average stands at just .192 over his first 26 at-bats and nine games with the Mets, three of his five hits landed over the fence.
“He looks a lot like the guy I saw, I think, in ’13 and ’14 before he got injured,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “He was a threat at the plate, controlled the game really well behind the plate.”
Back in 2014, Mesoraco batted .273 and led the majors in homers (24) and RBIs (76) while playing as the catcher. But he played in just 95 games and had only 236 at-bats with Cincinnati from 2015 through last season because of his assortment of broken-down body parts.
“Offensively, I think I’m getting better,” Mesoraco said. “I need some more at-bats to really get a good feel. But, yeah, I have some power.”
Can he be that force again that he was in 2014?
“I have to continue to work, continue to get better,” Mesoraco said. “Time will tell.”
There’s one thing the free agent-to-be already knows: The trade out of Cincinnati was beneficial for him.
“I was playing somewhat sparingly over there and kind of deservedly so,” Mesoraco said. “I haven’t done anything for the last couple of years. The Mets had an opening. They gave me an opportunity. I’m sure that they didn’t know exactly what they were going to get. So I’m hopeful I can just go out there and take advantage of the opportunity.”
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