Niese says his piece in Chatting Cave session
Mets left-hander praises talent on club, answers fans' questions
As one of baseball's biggest surprises this season, the Mets sit in second place in the National League East and occupy one of the NL's two Wild Card spots heading into Friday's games.
The hot start has caused many in New York to speculate whether the Mets may look to add to their roster at the Trade Deadline -- whether with another bullpen arm or another bat.
Mets left-hander Jon Niese is not one of the speculators looking to alter the current roster.
"We've got a lot of young guys that love to compete," Niese said during MLB.com's Chatting Cage on Friday. "Obviously we have a lot of talent on this team. I just think we need to stay consistent from our hitters, starting pitchers and our bullpen. We just have to stay consistent. I know we have a lot of talent, and I know we can do it."
Niese, who is 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA, is slated to make his next start on Saturday against the Reds at Citi Field.
Here is the full transcript from Niese's Chatting Cage session in which he answered questions from fans revolving around himself, his team and the community.
What's your favorite part about being a Met?
My favorite part about being a Met? Well, there's a few things. No. 1, the fans are outstanding, and the guys on the team are great to play with. Right now, we're winning. Everybody is fun to play with and we're having a lot of fun right now.
The winning seems to breed fun, and the fun breeds winning. Is it a pretty good culture?
Absolutely. And the fans love you when you win, so it's a good deal.
Who is the funniest guy in the Mets' clubhouse and why?
It has to be Tim Byrdak. He's the class clown of the group, and he always comes up with different pranks on different guys, and he's a good guy to have around.
How do you contribute to the community?
The Mets have us do a lot of community activities, and the last one I was at was when I was at P.S. 12 out in Queens. We helped with the City Harvest group to load the truck up with all the canned foods that they brought in. It was a lot of fun. I think it was Dan Murphy and Mike Baxter and I, we played catch with the winners. It was a lot of fun.
Have you ever considered learning a knuckleball? You have the greatest teacher in the world on your team.
I'll tell you what, if I have to resort to a knuckleball, I think my career's going to be over. I'm going to have to say no, but R.A. [Dickey] is outstanding at it. He's great at what he does, and it's really fun to watch him.
What is it like having somebody like Dickey in the rotation, and how does that affect the rest of you guys?
It's great. It kind of knocks the other hitters off-balance. Obviously he's pitching great for us. He already has 10 wins. That makes our team rest comfortably when we know that we have him out there on the mound, night in and night out, giving us quality starts and wins.
What's been the most exciting moment of your career with the Mets?
Wow. I think the most exciting moment happened this year with Johan [Santana] throwing that no-hitter. I think, despite the many accomplishments I've had in my career, I don't think anything was more exciting than watching him accomplish that feat.
The celebration after the no-hitter must have been unbelievable. How did that feel to be a member of that team at that moment?
It was great. I was actually charting the game, because I was actually going to be facing the Cardinals coming up. I charted up to the eighth inning, and it was just fun watching him. He had command of everything. In the ninth inning, when he finally completed it, it was just a lot of fun rushing out there and congratulating him.
Do you feel like you had one of the more unique perspectives on [the no-hitter]?
I had every pitch jotted down -- except the ninth inning, because I was in the dugout. It was a lot of fun to watch.
Have you always been a New York Mets fan?
I actually grew up in Ohio, so I always grew up a Cleveland Indians fan, so I'll have to apologize when I say no. But I play for the Mets now and that's the team that I'm going to fight for.
Do the Mets have enough to be competitive down the stretch? What additions would you like to see before the trading deadline?
I think we've got a lot of young guys that love to compete. Obviously we have a lot of talent on this team. I just think we need to stay consistent from our hitters, starting pitchers and our bullpen. We just have to stay consistent. I know we have a lot of talent, and I know we can do it. The consistency just has to be there.
Is there any player that you try to emulate when you play?
Not really. I think throughout my career, I've found out how to master my own pitchers. I get a lot of comparisons. Obviously, Andy Pettitte is one with the cutter. But I usually just try to focus on what I can do to each hitter, and that's what I go with.
Who, in your opinion right now, is the most exciting baseball player to watch?
I'd have to say R.A. right now. What he does with every start -- he is just absolutely incredible. The numbers he's putting up right now, especially after that start in Atlanta, how he's bounced back from that has been absolutely incredible.
Do you have a nickname in the clubhouse?
R.A. -- and pretty much everybody -- likes to call me Niese's Pieces.
Are you OK with that?
It's all in good fun. Niese's Pieces, like the Reese's Pieces.
Have you spoken to Mike Pelfrey recently, and how is he doing [following Tommy John surgery]?
I actually have. He's feeling good. He's getting some good arm rotation. He's doing good. I haven't spoken to him in a while, but the last time I had, he was pretty excited about how the surgery went, and I'm sure he's excited to get back.
Do you have any superstitions?
Obviously I do, but I really couldn't tell you. I think I just go about my routine each day, and I really don't even think about it. But I'm sure if somebody would follow me and look at my day-to-day routine, after about two or three starts, you'd probably find a few things that I do that probably would be called a superstition.
AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.