PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Aiming for his third consecutive full season in the major leagues, Mets backup catcher Anthony Recker arrived at spring training this year with a new motivation: Fatherhood.
The 31-year-old native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, spent most of his offseason in Modesto, California, the hometown of his wife, Kelly, who delivered their first child, a boy they named Camden, on Dec. 29.
"I felt something different from other offseasons," Recker said. "The baby on the way was a little bit distracting, but now that he's here and healthy, the worry is over and I am more focused because of the need to provide for your child and set a good example for him."
For the most part, Recker filled his backup role well in 2014. Backup catchers, he said, are expected primarily to "provide solid defense behind the plate and pop a homer here and there."
He did that, throwing out 10 of 27 potential base stealers (37 percent), including Reds speedster Billy Hamilton.
Of his 13 home runs in two seasons with the Mets, nine have either tied the game or given the Mets the lead, including five of his seven last year.
Recker said he is working this spring to be more consistent at the plate, making more contact to reduce his 35-percent strikeout rate and bring up his batting average from the .201 he hit in 2014.
"I had some really good games and some really bad games," he said. "I want to be consistent and be considered a threat every time I step into the box."
On defense, Recker said he is working to improve how he receives the ball "so the umpire doesn't miss it."
"If you're quiet back there and receive the ball well, you have a better shot at making sure I give my pitchers every chance to get that [strike] call," he said.
Recker and No. 1 catcher Travis d'Arnaud are the only two catchers on the 40-man roster. That doesn't mean Recker is taking his spot for granted. With a child now, perhaps the stakes are a little higher.
"As long as I come in and work my butt off, and do what I need to do, I belong on the team," he said. "But that doesn't mean I assume I am on the team."