The Mets and their fans could not have cared less about the 34-day layoff that Juan Uribe endured because of the injury to his chest. More important was what is in his heart. So the club put him on the World Series roster and the crowd at Citi Field stood and cheered him like crazy the first time he walked to the plate Friday night.
Within minutes, he was standing at first base, clapping like crazy over the pinch-hit RBI single that helped break open a season-saving 9-3 win over the Royals in Game 3.
"I felt happy. I felt happy because I felt like I was helping my team," he said. "I think this is why this organization brought me here, to help the team."
Funny thing is, he saw this coming. The 36-year-old infielder, who didn't play a whole lot for the Mets and didn't hit a ton, envisioned a night like this.
Back in spring training, which was two franchises ago for him, Uribe told people around the Dodgers, "This year, I know I'm going to the World Series. I was there in 2005, in 2010. Right now, I'm here."
Yes, he won with the White Sox 10 years ago and with the Giants five years ago. And that convinced manager Terry Collins to put him on the roster more than any medical report did.
Collins said before the Series, "I can walk through the locker room and I can't find anybody who's got two World Series rings except him."
So there Uribe was, despite not taking a major-league swing since Sept. 25 -- and that one aggravated a chest injury suffered five days earlier -- getting a rousing welcome from 44,781 as he came up as a pinch hitter with two on and one out in the sixth inning of a 5-3 game. He hit a single to right, sparking a four-run rally. There was no rust on Uribe. There was a veteran winner's polish.
"When people do that for you, you go to home plate more comfortable. You try to do a good job to help the team," he said.
He was at a loss, though, to explain the reception. "I don't know. I want to be the same every day. When I'm good, not good, I want to be the same. That's why the people love me."
Said Collins, "Well, big-league players are pretty talented guys. They do amazing things. When you've had the career Juan has had, he's done amazing things . . . He's such a good guy to have on your club and be in your clubhouse, it's nice that he had a chance to contribute."
Nobody on the club loves baseball more than Uribe does (remember how he was furious that football was on the clubhouse TV last month?) or has more fun playing it.
"He's never too serious," Tyler Clippard said. "When you have a guy who's been around and done the things that he's done in the postseason and regular season, it kind of puts things in perspective. Hey, man, we're playing a kids' game. Let's have fun. Each and every day, he has that mentality and it's infectious throughout the clubhouse."
Naturally, Uribe was asked, we will know where he will be in October 2020, right? He laughed hard and said, "Oh, I don't know. We'll see how I'm feeling when I go to spring training."