X-Man Drives Mets To Opening Day Win
By Joe McDonald
FLUSHING, NY - On the Mets first game of the season, 'X' marked the spot.
Xavier Nady, the forgotten acquisition of the offseason, has four hits, drove in a run and plated one himself in the Mets' 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals on Opening Day.
"We got great guys and I came over," Nady, a career .263 hitter in three big league seasons, said after the game. "I was under the radar. It was fun to play in front of the city and the fans and I hope I can help this team win."
Well now he's on the Mets' map. Nady tied Richie Hebner's 1979 record for four hits to begin a season, though that wasn't something the 27 year-old was striving for.
"I didn't know that," he laughed when told of his accomplishment. "I need to start doing my research."
Nady actually got back into the grove after having a rather uneven Spring Training after he made adjustments in Florida.
"In the middle of the spring I tinkered with my mechanics, but then I went back to where I was comfortable in the box," said Nady, who finished up at .283 with two home runs and 13 RBI during March. "I was fortunate today. Hopefully I will have more days like this down the road."
Maybe he will. The right fielder went back to a leg kick in his swing after abandoning it for a while during the preseason. It didn't work and returned to form the last week. Just in time for opening day and the pomp and circumstance that goes along with it at Shea Stadium.
"It was pretty neat," he said. "I show up yesterday and there are 15,000 for a work out. I was like 'What's going on here?' I have never been part of something special like here in New York, where every inning they are chanting. You look forward to that at the end of Spring Training."
And after being shipped out of Petco Park for Mike Cameron on November 18, Nady came into this season with something to prove.
"I worked hard in the offseason and felt like I was coming in ready and in shape," he said. "I came in playing hard. It was the competitor inside trying to show I was worth trading for and I made it work up here."
After this performance, Nady still needs to produce with Victor Diaz thirsting for playing time and top prospect Lastings Milledge in the minors looking ready to come up.
But that doesn't really concern the former San Diego Padre.
"I don't necessarily look at I had to get [four] hits," he said. "In the past I kind of dealt with similar situations where I got two hits and was in the lineup the next day. That's difficult to do. You can't play the game that way. I went out and got a couple of hit. I relaxed and I am enjoying it." And one a cold rainy April Monday, New Yorkers got a thrill out of his performance as well.