Tank is OK with the tank.
Former Met Todd Pratt, now managing a Class A affiliate of the Marlins, applauded Derek Jeter’s efforts to rebuild Miami’s farm system — and, eventually, the major league team — despite the fact that the process has mired the Marlins in the basement of the National League East with the worst winning percentage in the NL.
“They’re doing an amazing job,” Pratt said Friday during Mets alumni weekend. “Jeter has a great idea of what he wants to do. I think they knew it was going to be some time before they could — it was going to get worse. But I think this year really showed, with a lot of the trades, the drafts from the organization moving [up] from the high teens . . . but now they’re in the top 10 of organization prospects. I’ve [seen] a few of them. They’re doing the right thing. You’ve got to have patience, but it’s just like any club’s rebuilding process — make sure to get the young talent, and they really do.”
Pratt, who is managing the Jupiter Hammerheads, said his end goal is to manage in the major leagues. He added that the communication skills he learned when he served as the Mets’ backup catcher have translated to his new role.
“There’s really no rush” to make it as a manager in the big leagues, Pratt said, but he’s taking steps to round out his coaching resume.
“I think there are some aspects you have to learn to the hitting side, what it is nowadays: a lot of analytics that we didn’t really use when we played,” he said. “You’ve got to really be a master of those. My feeling is you’ve got to bring all aspects to the game, even some of the old school stuff, I think, not one or the other.”
Pratt also reflected on the iconic moments that have cemented his place in Mets lore. Often, he was a firebrand in the dugout — screaming, clapping and cheering alongside benchmates Lenny Harris and Matt Franco. But in 1999, Pratt was promoted to postseason hero. Subbing for injured Mike Piazza in Game 4 of the NL Division Series, Pratt hit a walk-off home run over the outstretched glove of Steve Finley in centerfield as the Mets defeated the Diamondbacks in 10 innings to advance to the NLCS. It was only his fourth homer of the season.
Yes, Pratt said laughing, people do ask about that. “They ask about the Grand Slam Single more,” he said.
That was Game 5 of the NLCS against the Braves when, with the bases loaded in a game tied at 3 in the 15th inning, Robin Ventura hit a grand slam -- sort of -- to keep the Mets’ season alive. Pratt, who had just walked to force in the tying run, mauled Ventura between first and second, instantly creating one of the greatest moments in Mets playoff history — a grand slam single.
Thing is, Pratt didn’t know it was a home run.
“Robin used to hit high fly ball home runs and that was a line drive, so I thought it was in the gap and all we need to do was touch the base,” Pratt said. “When he was waving me down, I thought he was cheering me. I don’t think he would have made it to third, if you watch the video. There were about 10 other guys behind him. I’ll take [the blame] for that one.”
Former Mets reliever Jeff Innis, who pitched for the team from 1987-93, also was on hand.
Lowrie getting closer
Jed Lowrie played again for Class A Brooklyn on Friday, though there still is no timetable for his return.
“I think talking to him, he understands where we’re at in the season,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “At some point, games in the minor leagues are going to end and he feels like he’s getting closer and closer.”