With just two days remaining until 2010 Training Camp, five Islanders players headed West to Flushing, Queens for one final off-season hoorah at Citi Field. Rick DiPietro, Bruno Gervais, Matt Moulson, Rob Schremp and James Wisniewski spent the afternoon in the batters box and on the diamond for batting practice prior to the New York Mets’ evening game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
As the group ascended the steps from the clubhouse tunnel to the home dugout, they were greeted by Mets Third Base Coach Chip Hale and offered a seat atop the Mets bench.
“You’ve got to show up Crosby and hit a few out,” chirped Hale, who then cautioned that Citi Field was where hitters “come to die.”
Also along to help the players’ cause was Mets bench boss Dave Jauss, who was slated to throw the BP session. Hale insisted that Jauss was so good at throwing BP he could make anyone look like a pro.
The Islanders players warmed up in foul territory while Pittsburgh was still working out on the field, and Wisniewski quickly spotted his old friend Delwyn Young. He trotted onto the field to greet the Pirates outfielder while the other Islanders slipped on their batting gloves and picked out bats.
“As long as there’s no hole in the barrel you’re good,” said Jauss. “I can hit the barrel.”
Gervais was given first crack at the plate and he answered with a few solid hits, including several line drives to the outfield.
Next at bat was Moulson, who struggled early, but swore he just had to warm up.
“Lay a bunt down!” shouted Wisniewski from the shortstop position.
Moulson stepped further back in the box and put together a few nice swings, his finest of which was a hard liner past Wisniewski, who didn’t give in to Bruno’s pleads to “Dive.”
Schremp and DiPietro were up next and each cracked several towering shots, but both lefties were pulling the ball into Citi’s cavernous right field and neither were able to clear the wall.
Wisniewski was the Islanders’ last hope, but the group had intentionally saved its biggest gun for last. Before committing to a career in hockey, the former high school baseball standout was considered a possible “double draft” candidate (NHL and MLB). The right handed hitter drove pitch after pitch to left field and ended up knocking a pair into the seats.
“You guys have tryouts coming up?” joked Wisniewski to his pitcher.
“Minaya’s watching right now,” replied Jauss.
In the interest of the Islanders’ keeping their newest defensive acquisition in skates, let’s hope Minaya wasn’t watching.