His time with the Mets was short, but Travis Jankowski said he is grateful he had the chance to play in the same area as his college, Stony Brook.
Jankowski, who was designated for assignment by the Mets on Friday after they traded for Tyler Naquin, was at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday after getting claimed by the Seattle Mariners.
Jankowski hopes to give the Mariners the same combination of speed and defense that made him a favorite of manager Buck Showalter – and, for a fleeting moment, of Mets fans.
“Total appreciation of being a part of that team,” Jankowski told Newsday. “I wish them the best moving forward. It was a great organization to be with and they treated me and my family unbelievably well, so I have nothing but great things to say about it. Unfortunately, the time ended. That’s kind of how baseball works. I wish I could have done more to stay there, but now I’m with the Mariners and I can’t wait to help this team win.”
Jankowski, 31, hit .167 in 43 games (63 plate appearances) for the Mets. Often used as a defensive replacement and pinch runner, Jankowski stole three bases and scored 11 runs. His season was interrupted when he fractured a finger diving for a ball on May 25 and he had to undergo surgery.
The Mets were Jankowski’s fourth big-league team. The chance to play near Stony Brook was special to him.
“College is where my career really took off,” he said. “I have nothing but great memories at Stony Brook, so to be able to go back to New York, to be able to return to that state where it all happened, I have plenty of great memories. It was awesome to be able to play there again. I heard a ton of Stony Brook cheers and Seawolf cheers from the outfield and from the on-deck circle there. It was definitely appreciated from my perspective from the fans.”
Jankowski’s signature moment as a Met came after he started both ends of a doubleheader sweep on May 3 against Atlanta and gave a quote that resonated with rooters of underdogs everywhere.
“A guy in my role, it can kind of get overlooked,” Jankowski said at the time. “You really have to check your ego at the door every day. No one’s going to be buying my jersey.”
About 10 days later, third baseman Eduardo Escobar presented Jankowski and the entire team with Mets shirseys with Jankowski’s name and No. 16 on the back. The players wore them during batting practice.
Jankowski, who was issued No. 8 by Seattle, said he only managed to keep one of the Mets shirseys before he was let go.
“I actually gave most of them away,” he said. “I think there’s a few requests from friends back home, so I might have to see if we can get some more made up.”