New Mets manager Carlos Beltran has a big fan — and an even bigger defender — in Long Island’s Marcus Stroman.
Stroman, the Mets righthander, posted on Twitter on Tuesday that he had a delightful and insightful phone conversation with Beltran.
“Just talked to @carlosbeltran15 on the phone,” Stroman posted on his Twitter account (@MSTR0). “Wow wow wow. The insight and knowledge is insane. Beyond excited to compete for and learn from this man in 2020! @Mets”
When some commenters pointed out (politely, of course) that Beltran has been implicated in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal from his time as a player in Houston, Stroman came to Beltran’s defense.
“No time for any negative talk of my new manager,” he posted. “Thankful for him. Historical legend in the game of baseball. The depth of knowledge he (possesses) is insurmountable. It’s an honor for me to compete for this man. Hall of Famer. One of the best to ever do it. Crazy excited for 2020!”
Beltran, it should be noted, is not actually in the Hall of Fame. He is not eligible until 2022.
Stroman recently made other Twitter news by announcing he was changing his uniform number from 7 to 0. He changed his Twitter handle to reflect the switch.
In non-virtual news that will affect Stroman, the Mets on Tuesday settled on Beltran’s first pitching coach. A source confirmed it will be former Mets righthander Jeremy Hefner, who at 33 is nearly 50 years younger than general manager Brodie Van Wagenen’s first pitching coach hire from last June.
When Van Wagenen fired pitching coach Dave Eiland, he hired 82-year-old Phil Regan as his replacement.
This time around, Van Wagenen has gone in the other direction. Hefner is part of a new wave of younger, analytics-minded pitching coaches.
The choice of Hefner was first reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
Hefner spent last season as the assistant pitching coach for the Minnesota Twins after working for the club as a scout.
His pitching career consisted of 50 games (36 starts) for the Mets in 2012-’13. The righthander went 8-15 with a 4.65 ERA before elbow injuries and Tommy John surgeries eventually ended his career after he spent 2016 in the Cardinals’ minor-league system.
Beltran and Hefner have some history that Hefner would probably like to forget. A video clip posted on Twitter by Jacob Resnick of Metsmerized Online shows Beltran hitting a hard one-hopper off Hefner’s pitching elbow in a 2013 spring training game. Beltran was with the Cardinals at the time. Hefner left the game, but was not seriously injured and went on to log a career-high 130 2/3 innings in his second (and final) big-league season.
Now he will be in charge of coaching reigning back-to-back NL Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom, plus Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Stroman and the rest of the Mets pitching staff.
Beltran’s coaching staff is shaping up, although the Mets are not publicly confirming any of their choices. Batting coach Chili Davis is returning and former Yankees prospect Hensley Meulens was reportedly added as the bench coach on Monday after serving in the same capacity for the Giants the past two seasons.