PORT ST. LUCIE — Mike Piazza’s visibility with the Mets will likely increase this season to its highest level since he stopped playing for the team.
The Hall of Fame catcher appeared in camp last week as a guest instructor — as has become his custom in recent seasons — but will now become involved in other facets of the organization, after recent discussions with new owner Steve Cohen.
It’s expected Piazza will help grow the Mets’ brand and profile while also dabbling in team heritage, community relations and sponsor relationships as well as maintaining a connection with the players.
Piazza resides with his family in Italy but also spends part of the year in South Florida.
“He is so outspoken, his personality — he lights up the room when he comes in,” said manager Luis Rojas, who joked he was angry with Piazza because the Mets won with him in the dugout earlier in the week and he then spent his following visit watching from Cohen’s suite. “He’s a great presence to have, both from the catching end and talking about sequences and the catching game and all that and talking about hitting. Definitely a great asset to have around. It was really cool that he was among us for a few days.”
Jerry Blevins, Jerad Eickhoff, Caleb Joseph, Jose Peraza, Mallex Smith and Arodys Vizcaino all were informed by the Mets that they will not be part of the Opening Day roster. Additionally, Stephen Tarpley was optioned to the Triple-A roster. The Mets were left with 31 players in camp. They still must reduce that number by five before Thursday’s season opener.
Jonathan Villar took grounders and batting practice but wasn’t on the travel roster and isn’t expected to play in Monday’s Grapefruit League finale, according to Rojas. The infielder, who has dealt with groin discomfort, is expected to work out with the team in Washington on Tuesday and be evaluated.