May 31, 2022 – Last Word on Sports: Quiet Before the Thunder for Mets and Phillies

By Joe Rini

The rain quieted the usual pregame activity at Citi Field on May 28th, but didn’t silence it between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. The hive of activity at the batting cage was stilled by the covered tarp and indoor batting practice. However, between periods of rain, the training staff lead some of the Mets players in lateral stretching exercises in right field. No fans were in the ballpark yet, three hours before the first pitch, but the concession people were prepared for them. Phillies’ Roman Quinn’s fielding drills were on full display as well.

Roman Quinn’s Fielding Drills.

A few fans behind the cordoned-off backstop taking photos replaced the usual throng of guests watching BP and getting autographs. Roman Quinn of the Philadelphia Phillies performed fielding drills as coach Paco Figueroa hit fungoes to him.  Quinn, Dom Smith, and Zack Wheeler signed autographs, and took photos with one lucky young fan on the field. A bow-tied Ken Rosenthal buzzed across foul territory between the dugouts prepping for Fox Sports’ broadcast of the game between the Mets and Phillies.

Later, a sweat-drenched Quinn gladly signed autographs in left field as fans tossed Sharpies and balls to him. Chatting with Last Word on Baseball, Quinn said he was working on his handwork and fielding progressions with Figueroa. He demonstrated the progressions, fielding balls from the front and each side separately. Every drill has a purpose he said. Preparation is key.

Chat with Phillies’ Zack Wheeler

Wheeler emerged from the visiting team’s clubhouse and chatted with Last Word on Baseball. He said he was feeling much better now than earlier in the season. The shortened spring training affected him initially because he rested his pitching arm for much of the offseason. He showed no lingering ill effects of the short spring training the next day. He struck out seven Mets in six innings. Unfortunately, this was undone by poor defensive play in the 5–4 Phillies loss.

When asked about not pitching for two years due to Tommy John surgery, Wheeler said it was tough physically and mentally. He said the doctors now say it can take two years to come back from such surgery. When asked if he felt he was rushed when he pitched early in 2017, Wheeler said, no. He took accountability for pitching early in the season because he didn’t want to go back to Triple-A.

A runner-up in the 2021 NL Cy Young voting, Wheeler is excelling in his post Mets career. Like Scott Kazmir in the mid-2000s, Mets fans wonder how the team let him go whenever he pitches.

The rain quieted the pregame, but not the game. Clear evening skies, 37,455 raucous fans, and thunderous bats replaced the quiet pregame as the Mets defeated the Phillies 8–2.