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Melky Cabrera thankful for chance to play in New York again

The Mets' Melky Cabrera returns to the dugout

The Mets' Melky Cabrera returns to the dugout in a simulated game during an MLB summer camp training session at Citi Field on Sunday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Unemployed all offseason and throughout baseball’s coronavirus shutdown, Melky Cabrera really, truly is just happy to be here. Can he play first base? Sure, he said. He has done so in the Dominican Winter League and is giving it a shot in camp with the Mets.

Is he happy to be back in New York, where he spent his first five major-league seasons with the Yankees? Sure, he said. He is pleased for the new chance with a new team.

What role might he have? Not sure, he said. The Mets told him to show up and work hard, so he is.

“With the opportunity that I have, I think I’m able to bring veteran leadership and also with the versatility I have, being a switch hitter, in any position they put me in, I think I can help the team,” the 35-year-old outfielder said through an interpreter Sunday.

The Mets initially worked out Cabrera in March but didn’t sign him to a minor-league deal until late last month, when MLB lifted its transaction freeze.

“Thank God I was staying in shape,” Cabrera said. “I was making sure that I was in top shape.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity. [New York City] is where I first started my career and I’m grateful for the team to give me this new opportunity to continue playing here.”

Healthy, maybe

The Mets have not had any new baseball-related injuries during camp, manager Luis Rojas said.

Robinson Cano missed a sixth consecutive day, and relievers Brad Brach and Jared Hughes still haven’t arrived in camp. “We’re just not going to reveal anything about the guys that are not here each day in camp,” Rojas said. “The timeline [for their return] is not known yet.”

Scrimmage scribblings

Marcus Stroman (three innings) and Rick Porcello (four innings) faced off in an intrasquad game. In his first inning, Stroman reached his pitch count before recording three outs, so the inning ended. In his second, he took a Wilson Ramos comebacker off his leg but recovered to pick up the ball and throw to first for the out. He grimaced on his way back to the dugout but pitched another inning.

Extra bases

Hitting coach Chili Davis, working remotely, has been conducting regular video meetings with Mets position players. “Chili is very much engaged to the program and to camp right now,” Rojas said . . . Asked if Yoenis Cespedes will be ready for Opening Day, Rojas was not as certain as Cespedes was Saturday. “The defense is the part that we’ll need to see more and more progression.” Rojas said. “He said it [Saturday], which is always great to hear. But we’ll keep reassessing.” . . . Dellin Betances’ fastball velocity was up to the mid-90s on Saturday, according to Rojas.

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

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