THE METS ARE LUCKY TO HAVE THIS ANGEL IN THE OUTFIELD • Latino Sports

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THE METS ARE LUCKY TO HAVE THIS ANGEL IN THE OUTFIELD

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There have been two Hollywood motion pictures called “Angels in the Outfield,” and so far this year the Mets can at least count on their own version of an ‘Angel in the Outfield’.

NEW YORK—There have been two Hollywood motion pictures called “Angels in the Outfield,” and so far this year the Mets can at least count on their own version of an ‘Angel in the Outfield’.

 

It has already started when this 26 year old native of Rio Piedras, comes to the plate and slowly ecstatic fans rise to their feet and begin to flap their arms up and down. Surely, everyone remembers the Disney 1994 version of ‘Angels in the Outfield’ when a young boy wishing that his dreadful team would start to win games calls for some divine intervention. As Moises Alou continues his rehabilitation, Angel Pagan is simply what every Met fan has hoped and prayed for. In the month of April, Angel Pagan has been, as Latinos like to say…MUY CALIENTE!

   It would take Pagan five years within the Mets organization to finally get a taste of what baseball is like on the major league level. Ironically, he wouldn’t be wearing a Met uniform but on April 3, 2006 against the Cincinnati Reds, he collected his first career hit as a Chicago Cub. 

As every major league player can attest to, sometimes one never knows what the future holds. But if you ask Pagan if he’s enjoying every minute as the starting left fielder for the NY Mets, you’ll get the answer in English and Spanish.

 Prior to the Mets-Nationals game, Pagan shared his thoughts at the first Spanish-language press conference of the 2008 MLB season for members of the Latino press and the Latino Sports Writers and Broadcasters Association (LSWBA).  

For Pagan, it seems to have been a rather easy transition from being a fifth outfielder in March during Spring Training to an everyday player.

 {mosimage}“I remember what Willie (Randolph) said to me that you made the team and you’re going to be my guy. I was so proud. I feel real good to represent. I’m doing the job for Moises as if he were here.” Pagan would also talk about the professionalism one has to have when coming to a new clubhouse and who his influences were when it came to baseball. “My mother was my first manager. My brother also was a big influence too. He played the game as well but not professionally. My idols growing up were Bernie Williams, Juan Gonzalez and of course one of the best hitters in the league, Carlos Beltran.” And why the sudden pop in the bat? ‘Well, I’ve been working with Howard Johnson. He changed my stance and approach at the plate. Most of my career, I was a lead-off hitter and Johnson has really helped me out a lot. I come to play hard and it doesn’t matter the situation, just stay calm.” It’s not everyday you see a player who besides his regard for his teammates seemed genuinely concerned for how children perceive him. 

“I relate to the children because they are our future. I want kids to identify with me when they see me.”

 {mosimage} After batting practice, Mets hitting coach, Howard Johnson talked of how Pagan has truly matured and his recollections of the player who grew up in the orange and blue. “Angel has worked very hard and when he was in our organization I had the luxury of coaching him every year. He’s made some adjustments and to his credit it’s paid off for him.” Hard work, yes but what specifically did Johnson see needed to be corrected? “He was getting himself off-balance a lot in his swing,” stated Johnson. He had a lot of body movement and that’s the one thing I tried to do was eliminate as much body movement as possible. Use his hands, see the ball a long time and get into good counts to hit in.” 

This year, Randolph saw something in spring training. Howard Johnson seemed to think he was a player to watch from his earlier years and now the fans believe he may be the one to roam the outfield in Citifield in 2009.

 {mosimage} But the question that wasn’t asked has Pagan received any help from the angels above? It doesn’t hurt to ask the next time around. 

About Danny Torres

Bronx native, Danny Torres is a high school teacher, an avid baseball fan and freelance sports journalist. Besides his work with Latinosports.com, he has written for MLB.com, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y, the N.Y. Mets, the Puerto Rico Daily Sun and Manhattan Times. He was a frequent guest on ‘Solamente Pelota’, a now-defunct sports program on XM/Sirius satellite radio. In 2010, he contributed to an updated prologue for the re-released book, ‘Clemente, the Enduring Legacy’ by Kal Wagenheim. In 2011, as part of a series commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month on MLB.com, he contributed to a five-part series saluting the greatest Latino pitchers in baseball. Finally, in December, 2011, he participated in a panel discussion connected with the Smithsonian exhibition, ‘Beyond Baseball, The Life of Roberto Clemente’ in Baltimore, Maryland. In December, 2012, he appeared on the front page of ‘El Diario/La Prensa’, a NY Spanish daily newspaper and was featured in a five-part series dedicated to the legendary Puerto Rican baseball player, Roberto Clemente who tragically died 40 years ago.