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Daniel Zamora: From Stony Brook to the Mets' bullpen

Grateful pitcher made his major-league debut Friday, striking out two in 1 1/3 innings. 

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 17: Daniel Zamora #73

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 17: Daniel Zamora #73 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch in the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 17, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) Photo Credit: Getty Images/Drew Hallowell

PHILADELPHIA — Daniel Zamora has had the Steven Matz sandwich at East Setauket’s Se-Port Deli, though he hasn’t been around the team long enough to ask Matz about it. The Mets’ newest lefty reliever knows what a Seawolf is and probably has gotten stuck in traffic on Route 347. No word yet on if he has a “Salt Life” sticker plastered on a car anywhere — the true Long Island staple.

Zamora, 25, who made a successful major-league debut on the mound on Friday, may be from Southern California, but for three years, Long Island adopted him as its own. He joined the only college team that seriously recruited him — “D-I, D-II, all of them . . . Stony Brook was my only official offer,” he said, laughing — and he now credits the program with a lot of his advancement.

On Friday, that meant the lefty with the arm slot that veers toward sidearm trotted out to the mound at Citizens Bank Park in front of his mom, dad and about 40,000 fans and struck out the first batter he faced. Zamora  struck out two and walked one in 1 1⁄3 innings.

“I liked the little bit of deception [he showed],” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. He’s “a lower-slot lefty that spins the ball. I think he’s going to be about 80 percent breaking balls when he goes out there, which isn’t a bad thing . . . He looked impressive. He didn’t show any signs of anxiety, and that’s what you want to see from a young kid.”

Zamora got The Call when he was at home with his girlfriend, who is seven months pregnant with the couple’s daughter. He was officially promoted from Double-A Binghamton on Friday, when Bobby Wahl (hamstring) was put on the 10-day disabled list.

In 40 games with Binghamton, Zamora was 1-1 with two saves and a 3.48 ERA. He struck out 69 and walked 16 in 51 2⁄3 innings.

“My manager called . . . and said, ‘Hey, how’s [your girlfriend] doing?’  ” Zamora said. “  ‘She’s doing fine. She’s on bed rest.’ And he said, ‘Can she fly at all?’ ‘No, she’s stuck in bed.’ And he said, ‘What if you’re meeting the team in Philly?’  

“I was really excited. I couldn’t believe it.”

Stony Brook coach Matt Senk said his staff was immediately intrigued with Zamora despite the fact that “there was a risk factor involved.” But the Seawolves did their due diligence, he said, and Zamora impressed then-pitching coach Mike Marron and then-recruiting coordinator Joe Pennucci. Senk agreed when he finally saw him for himself.

“There’s always some risk factor unless you’re getting a blue-chip player and, as much as we would love to get that guy, we’re more about projectability,” Senk said. “The biggest thing for Danny was just trusting and really working on the breaking ball, and that became a plus pitch . . . With Danny, we would have felt comfortable running him out with anybody in the country.”

Zamora pitched for Stony Brook in 2013 and 2015 but missed his sophomore year (shoulder surgery). He was drafted by the Pirates before his senior year and entered the Mets’ farm system in the Josh Smoker trade.

“Stony Brook was a huge part of my development to get here, to get to the next level and get ready for professional baseball,” Zamora said. “I actually called all of [my coaches after getting called up]. They all put in a lot of hours of work and stuff so I wanted to make sure I thanked as many as I could. I know I didn’t get to some of them. I tried.”

Senk said he got his call Friday at 7:30 a.m.

“I looked down at my phone and I saw his name and I thought, this is either really, really good or really, really bad,” he said. “I said hello and I heard the excitement in his voice. It seemed like he was going to go right through the phone . . . It couldn’t happen to a nicer young man.”

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