Made for New York
Vaughn fits right in with MetsPosted: Tuesday February 26, 2002 12:33 PM
Updated: Tuesday February 26, 2002 2:04 PM
Throughout spring training, CNNSI.com will feature regular dispatches from Sports Illustrated staffers assigned to scout camps in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues.
By Jeff Pearlman, Sports Illustrated
Team: New York Mets
Site: Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Weather: Warm and sunny
Player I Saw Whom I Really Liked: Mo Vaughn. It was sad to see Todd Zeile leave New York, because he is truly one of the game's great people. That said, Vaughn is a bolt of electricity. He's smart, he's funny, he has swagger and he gives the Big Apple's other team a second Piazza- sized dose of star power. Plus, there's an element of intrigue that doesn't exist with Jason Giambi in Tampa. After missing all of last season with a torn left biceps tendon, will the 6-foot-1, 268-pound first baseman, return to form? Or is he, at age 34, Mo talk, less results.
Around the Horn: The happiest player in camp might be left fielder Roger Cedeno, who was traded to the Astros two years ago in the Mike Hampton deal. Cedeno never adjusted to Houston, and last year, with Detroit, he and Tigers manager Phil Garner never saw eye to eye. ... Bobby Valentine is one of the hardest reads in baseball, but he seemed serious in describing non-roster invitee Robert Stratton's "McGwire- like power." Stratton, the Mets' No. 1 pick in the '96 draft, struck out more than 200 times in 2001, but hit 30 homers. As Valentine told the gathered media of Stratton's ungodly BP displays, reporters tried to name someone who had impressed Bobby V. more. "Strawberry?" Nope. "Canseco?" Nope "Reggie?" Nope. Just McGwire. Valentine says he hasn't decided on a lineup, or which outfield corner will be handled by Cedeno and which by ex-Brewer Jeromy Burnitz. ... The most shocking surprise in camp is the newly buff Rey Ordonez. Once an ordinary Tom Veryzer- esque scrawny shortstop, Ordonez looks as if he's added 15-20 pounds of muscle. ... Tony Tarasco, the former Atlanta prospect, is sporting the best 'do in camp: His long braids dangle from under his cap like a cluster of jelly worms. ... Although he had a disappointing, injury-plagued 2001, Jay Payton remains the center field frontrunner. He's battling for the gig with holdover Timo Perez and ex-Padre/Cub/Pirate Gary Matthews Jr. ... Perez apologized for misleading the Mets about his age. The 24-year-old speedster is actually 54.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Jeff Pearlman will check in periodically with reports from his tour of spring camps. Click here to send a question to his Spring Training Mailbag.