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Taylor Teagarden hopes to catch on with Mets

Baltimore Orioles catcher Taylor Teagarden catches the ball

Baltimore Orioles catcher Taylor Teagarden catches the ball during a baseball spring training workout Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in Sarasota, Fla. Credit: AP / Charlie Neibergall

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - While pitchers and catchers went about getting their physicals and checking out their fresh equipment, six flat-screen TVs in the Mets' spring training clubhouse aired Team USA's 5-1 hockey triumph over Slovenia on Sunday morning.

Of course, one member of the Mets already had his medal.

Taylor Teagarden, looking to give the Mets a veteran presence behind the plate in 2014, was a member of manager Davey Johnson's 2008 bronze- medal team in Beijing. In fact, Teagarden, who shared catching duties with Lou Marson, had a tiebreaking two-run double in the 8-4 victory over Japan that gave Team USA the bronze.

"Brett Anderson pitched a great game for us that day,'' said Teagarden, a non-roster invitee to Mets camp who at the time was a hot prospect with the Texas Rangers.

With MLB in full swing, the U.S. team was composed almost entirely of minor-leaguers.

"The Beijing Olympics were a lot of fun,'' Teagarden said. "I'm really glad I did it. I was very fortunate that the timing worked out for me and my career."

Like most of his Mets teammates, Teagarden wasn't paying much attention to Team USA's easy hockey victory on Sunday.

"I get a little more involved in the summer Olympics," he said. "Watching Michael Phelps was really fun to watch. I like seeing the sprinters and other really physically gifted athletes."

If he had his druthers, Teagarden would be watching Olympic baseball during the Summer Games. The Olympic Committee, however, dropped the sport after the 2008 Games.

"I felt very sad when I found out they did away with it," Teagarden said. "It's unfortunate because baseball is more than just a big sport in America. I feel that, world-wide, it's big enough to definitely have a competitive field. There are a lot of [lesser] sports the Olympics carry and I feel baseball should be part of it."

Teagarden, 30, said he keeps his Olympic medal tucked away in a safe. He does have framed Olympic certificates on display at his home.

Slowed by back injuries in 2012-13 as a member of the Orioles, Teagarden is known for his defense, but he has some pop. He hit six of his 20 major- league homers in 16 games with Texas in 2008 and has hit 60 homers in eight minor-league seasons.

At minimum, he represents a solid insurance policy for the Mets, who hope young catchers Travis d'Arnaud and Anthony Recker will begin to make their marks this spring.

"This team has a lot of young catching depth," Teagarden said. "But I'm here to compete with these guys. We're going to work with each other and get better and I'm hoping to be a part of that."


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