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Ownership has its privileges: Steve Cohen interacts with Mets in person

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen attends a

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen attends a news conference at a COVID-19 vaccination site at Citi Field, the home of the Mets, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Credit: AP/Mary Altaffer

We spend so much time looking forward to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, and then position players a week later, that sometimes we forget other significant arrivals.

Take Saturday at Clover Park in Port St. Lucie, Florida, for instance. Steve Cohen reported to Mets camp for the first time as the owner of the team he bought in November for $2.4 billion.

Ownership has its privileges.

Cohen, the Great Neck billionaire, walked around the complex in a blue and orange Mets cap and matching mask. He stood behind David Peterson as the lefthander threw a bullpen session. He chatted with and fist-bumped players and staffers. He talked with the coaches and technology wizards and looked pretty much like any other Mets fan from up north who got out of the cold and got to spend a day at spring training.

That is to say, pretty darn thrilled.

"It’s just getting more real," Cohen said with a wide smile in an interview with SNY. "Because of COVID, I’m sitting in my house. Everything’s by Zoom. And so now I’m at the park, you know, which is what baseball is — watching baseball and watching the players."

Cohen’s front office, led by team president Sandy Alderson, has assembled a club that had a solid base and includes new arrivals such as Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor May, Taijuan Walker, James McCann and Jonathan Villar.

Are the Mets done? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Cohen is famous for searching for value in untapped markets, so if something pops up between now and Opening Day on April 1, the Mets still could add talent. But for now, this is the group they will take into the season.

"I’m pretty excited by this ballclub," Cohen said. "I think Sandy and the crew have done a really good job assembling some depth. Really, really interesting ballplayers on all positions. I think we’re going to be significantly improved. I’m hopeful. You never know until they get out there, right? Hopefully injuries will stay minimal injuries. I’m excited about the prospects that we have this year, so I can’t wait till we start."

Cohen toured Clover Field and its many back fields. Exhibition games will begin there on March 2 with a limited number of fans allowed in.

"It’s a great-looking facility," Cohen said. "Got everything players need. Field looks great. Fans [will] come by and watch a great game and they have great amenities for the fans. I’m really impressed by what they’ve done here."

Chances are Cohen didn’t engage in any major skull sessions with his brain trust on Saturday. With position players scheduled to report on Monday, he just wanted to get the feel of his new ballclub and interact with some of the people he had spoken to only on the phone, or on Zoom, or not at all.

"Just to see the park and walk around and see different diamonds and watching the players," he said. "I mean, you see them in real life, they’re 6-5 and they’re throwing the ball hard and so it’s fun to watch and talk to the coaches and talk to them about what they do and how they think about things. Talking to technology people on how they collect data. There’s a real operation going on here.

"It’s very serious and they’re trying to get our pitchers and catchers ready this weekend and, I guess, next week the other players come.

"But it’s fun to watch and it’s really interesting. It’s exciting, and seeing how it actually works and learning. I’m learning a whole new industry, a sport. Obviously, I played baseball in my life, but the extent that they go about things here is pretty interesting."

One person Cohen met for the first time in person was manager Luis Rojas.

"I thought it was pretty cool to finally meet him," Rojas said on Sunday. "It was exciting to hear him talk about the team."

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