Eric Orze of the New York Mets during Photo Day...

Eric Orze of the New York Mets during Photo Day at Clover Park on March 16, 2022 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  Credit: Getty Images/Benjamin Rusnak

PITTSBURGH — When the initial wave of numb jubilation subsided and Triple-A Syracuse’s clubhouse cleared out Friday night, Eric Orze had a minute to himself as he loaded up his bags.

In that quiet moment, it hit him: The 26-year-old righthander, a two-time cancer survivor, was headed to the major leagues.

The Mets called Orze up Saturday because they needed another bullpen arm, and he was the most deserving. But the transaction was about so much more than roster management.

“I was packing up some of my stuff and got a little emotional for a second. All those tough times came back for a minute,” Orze, sitting in the visitors’ dugout at PNC Park, said before the Mets’ game against the Pirates. “All of it was worth it. All of it has made me the person I am today and the player I am today. I wouldn’t change anything.”

Manager Carlos Mendoza said: “What a great story. Credit to him, player development. He’s been through a lot in his life. For him to be here — he’s a big-leaguer now. It’s pretty special.”

Orze missed part of the 2018 season and all of the 2019 season, when he was at the University of New Orleans, because of initially testicular cancer and then melanoma.

These days, he is healthy, checked periodically for signs of additional skin cancer — especially since he spends so much time in the sun on the job — as well as getting “some blood work and some X-rays” once a year to make sure everything else is clean.

“Sometimes I forget,” Orze said of his arduous path. “But then it’s moments like yesterday. Some of those emotions come back, remembering what I had to go through to get here. You just appreciate that journey a little bit more.”

Orze returned to the mound in 2020 for all of four games before the pandemic abruptly ended his and everybody else’s season. That June, the Mets selected him in the fifth (and last) round of the draft, pick No. 150 of 160.

He shot up to Syracuse by late 2021. But he stayed there until Friday night, for several seasons on the periphery of the Mets’ relief picture but never quite performing well enough to get the call.

“This was year four of me being there,” he said. “I know my way around a little bit.”

With a 3.76 ERA and 1.33 WHIP this year in the minors, Orze impressed team decision-makers. The Mets sent righthander Ty Adcock back to Syracuse to clear a roster spot.

“I’ve kind of just been trying to take the approach of going about my business,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been throwing the ball well. I’ve been trying to [have] tunnel vision on that.

“When I got the news [teammates shouted] ‘speech, speech.’ I was just like, uhhhh, I don’t have any words. I don’t know what to say. I have nothing.”


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