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Heilman Ready to Help Mets in the Bullpen

Mike SteffanosThursday, March 30, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

In the Bergen Record, Steve Popper reports that Billy Wagner has taken it upon himself to help Aaron Heilman over his disappointment with being sent to the bullpen. Popper quotes Wagner, who consoled Heilman in the same manner that he did with Octavio Dotel in Houston:

I said, "How's it feel to be hopefully part of one of the best bullpens in baseball?" I know he's upset. He wanted to start. Dotel was the same way. They took him out of the rotation and instead of being hurt and upset, me and Mike Jackson walked up to him and said, "Hey, you've got a chance to make us 10 times better, a chance to really be part of something special."

Once he kind of accepted that, I think he grew. It's not a knock to go into the bullpen, not anymore. I mean it would have been in the old times, but now you're a special person. He puts up the numbers he's capable of and our bullpen is going to be pretty good.

As for Heilman, despite reports from a dreaded "anonymous source" yesterday, he is not demanding a trade and is committed to helping this team:

It's not a demotion. I was able to have success there in the bullpen last year. And hopefully I'll be able to have that same type of success and help us win. I mean that's the bottom line, if we can get into the playoffs and play in October. If this helps us get to the playoffs then that's what I'm going to do.

I like the way Wagner has taken it upon himself to be a leader in the bullpen. As for Heilman, I would have liked to see him in the rotation because I felt that he would help them more there. I do understand what they are doing with the bullpen, and that Heilman can really help them out there, especially while we see what happens with Julio and Sanchez.

I've gotten comments and emails to the effect that the Mets are damaging Heilman's psyche by putting him back in the bullpen. I just can't agree with that line of thinking. He's a smart kid that understands what's going on, and he's being paid a lot of money to play baseball for a living. There are thousands of guys in the minors that would switch places with him in a heartbeat.

I haven't agreed with some of the moves the Mets have made this off-season and during spring training, but I find myself somewhat amazed by some of the really negative comments and email I'm receiving. I'm as passionate as anyone -- I've been rooting for this team since the days of first-run Brady Bunch episodes, and spend too much of my too little free time blogging about the Mets for absolutely no money. I'll always respect the passion of the true diehard fans, I just wish some of you could relax and enjoy things more. We've had so many awful Mets teams to root for, let's give this team a chance.

Daily News: Season Preview
Adam Rubin previews the season with position-by-position scouting reports. Good job, but then he wusses out at the end and predicts them with 91 wins and a wildcard.

New York Post: Hale's Preview
Mark Hale offers another good season preview, and also wusses out on picking the Mets ahead of the Braves.

NY Sports Day: Another Preview
Michael Avallone also previews the 2006 season.

New York Times: Anderson Hernandez
Ben Shpigel gives us a closer look at the new Mets second baseman.

The Journal News: Paul Lo Duca
John Delcos profiles the Mets new catcher.

Bergen Record: Pitching School
Steve Popper has a great story on how Brian Bannister is learning from the veterans on the pitching staff.

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets
Pro Sports Daily Mets

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