Manager Buck Showalter of the Mets has been coaching in skilled baseball since 1985, and he has learned there are some lines you don’t wish to cross.
One is getting a reliever warmed up — sometimes greater than once — but not using him in the sport. The practice irks pitchers, sometimes to extreme levels.
Early in his managerial profession, Showalter got a lesson in why you must avoid this practice from Steve Howe. One night in Cleveland, after Showalter had warmed up Howe but didn’t use him, there was a commotion coming from Howe’s hotel room, which was directly above Showalter’s. When the manager asked the player the following day if all the pieces was OK, Howe insisted he was just releasing the pent-up emotion of the day after not moving into the sport.
It seems pitchers aren’t the one players to experience this. Showalter was recalling the story about Howe after admitting he had asked Daniel Vogelbach, his team’s designated hitter and left-handed pinch-hitting specialist, to organize to return into the sport twice on Saturday, only to go away him on the bench in a 3-0 win.
Vogelbach had more fun with the situation than Howe had.
“We were laughing about it,” Showalter said the following day, going so far as to re-enact Vogelbach’s response. He added: “They get all this juice as much as pinch-hit. They’re able to go and swiftly, it doesn’t occur.”
That was Showalter’s good distance of claiming Vogelbach has brought greater than just left-handed power to the first-place Mets since being acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 22. Vogelbach’s contributions on the plate are appreciated, but so is his presence within the clubhouse.
Mets fans seem just as enamored of Vogelbach as Showalter. A burly hitter at 6 feet and 270 kilos, Vogelbach has quickly endeared himself with a couple of big home runs and maximum effort on the basepaths. He has felt the love from his latest home crowd in a well-traveled profession, but he’s trying to not get caught up in it, either.
“It’s been nice,” Vogelbach said. “It’s nice to feel just like the fans are behind you. But I just attempt to put my head down and just play baseball.”
While limited by his lack of a defensive position (he has played five games at first base this 12 months, all for the Pirates) and his extreme platoon splits as a hitter, he has been one in all the largest contributors amongst players acquired by contending teams on the trading deadline.
“He’s been a fantastic fit for us,” Showalter said. “Very serious concerning the game but doesn’t take himself too seriously. Really likes winning. I feel he really likes being in this example he’s been given.”
Taijuan Walker, who’s scheduled to start out for the Mets on Tuesday in the primary game of a vital three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, agreed with Showalter’s assessment.
“Great teammate,” he said of Vogelbach. “At all times laughing, at all times smiling, at all times having a superb time. Just brings good energy to the team.”
Walker first played with Vogelbach in Seattle, where the 2 began their major league careers. Vogelbach, 29, was called up for the primary time in 2016, but he played in just 61 M.L.B. games over his first three seasons.
Vogelbach then had a breakout season in 2019, making his first All-Star team. He hit .208, and struck out 149 times, but 30 home runs and a .341 on-base percentage had him looking like a 3 true final result contributor in the identical vein as Joey Gallo, the previous Yankee and current Dodger.
Then things got complicated. His 2020 season began poorly, resulting in his being designated for project by the Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays. A waiver claim led to a productive stint in Milwaukee — he hit .328 down the stretch with 4 home runs, helping lead the Brewers to the playoffs — but a hamstring strain the following season stripped him of his power and led to the Brewers nontendering him this past off-season.
He signed with Pittsburgh, and along with his hamstring healthy, his power returned, with 12 home runs in 75 games. With the Pirates going nowhere, Vogelbach was on the move again, this time in a trade to the Mets for Colin Holderman, a rookie reliever.
“I mean, people got to want you, I suppose,” Vogelbach said of his multiple stops. “I feel like I played my way out of Pittsburgh. Played well and so they weren’t able to win and I wasn’t a component of their plan. Had some good years in Seattle after which guess they were able to move on from me, and same as Milwaukee, I suppose.”
His batting average since his arrival in Queens was .250 through Monday, a modest number for a lot of. But combined along with his patience, it led to a formidable .388 on-base percentage. He also had 4 home runs, including one in a loss to the Yankees last week.
That home run was against Domingo Germán, a right-hander, which was hardly a surprise: All 16 of Vogelbach’s home runs this season have come against righties. For his profession, he’s batting .259 with 65 homers against right-handed pitchers, and .134 with six homers against left-handers.
Teams will at all times need left-handed power, so Vogelbach must have some job security, even when it means bouncing from team to team. But with a team-friendly $1.5 million club option for 2023, there’s a likelihood he has a house in Queens for no less than one other season, which could be his longest stop since Seattle.
That will be nice with him.
“I’ve enjoyed playing here and would love to be back, but that’s all out of my control,” he said. “I even have to perform and I even have to play well for any of that stuff to return to reality.”