Satin talks fan interaction, off-days at Fan Cave visit
Childhood trip to ballpark helps shape Mets first baseman's demeanor
NEW YORK -- Technically speaking, Josh Satin was 6 years old the first time he appeared in a Major League Baseball game, and it partly explains the man he is today.
It was the 1991 season at Dodger Stadium, where his favorite team was playing the rival Giants.
"This is really random, but one of my first games, I was really young, and a player named Willie McGee, he played for the Giants," Satin said. "My dad was holding me by my legs to reach over to grab a foul ball, and I fell over. Willie kind of picked me up and held me and gave me the ball. For like a long time, he was completely my favorite player. He didn't even play for a team I liked, it was just because of that."
Because of that, Satin is a Major League player who says he tries to think like McGee did that day. And amazingly enough, the Mets' next road trip will begin at Dodger Stadium, the same place where a little boy once tried to reach too far for a foul ball and realized what a positive force a player could be.
"I always try to think about what I wanted when I was 5 years old or 10 years old, out of a guy: Just a wave," Satin said during a visit Monday at the MLB Fan Cave. "People are always yelling at you on the field. Especially before a game, when you're trying to get ready, you stretch out, 10 minutes before the game. People are always screaming. I don't have time to sign an autograph or anything, I need to get ready. But I always try -- especially if it's a little kid -- to give them a wave or a smile, because I knew that it meant a lot when I was young.
"And you could see sometimes when David Wright does that to a kid, their face like lights up. They're gonna tell everyone the next day that 'David Wright waved at me.' If I bring half that or a little of that joy to them, that's all that matters."
David and Gail Satin now have a Major Leaguer on their hands, the same kid from Hidden Hills, Calif., who slipped out of David's hands ever so briefly in '91. He is hitting .309 (25-for-81) in 22 starts this season, and that included starting at third on Sunday in the wake of Wright's trip to the disabled list.
His parents have been to New York to watch the rookie play, as he gradually accumulates everyday experience and shows signs of a player with a key future for the Mets. When the Mets make that southern California trip, first to L.A. and then to San Diego, the parents will have company.
"It's going to be incredible," Satin said. "I was a Dodger fan growing up. Not even a thought in my mind that, 'Wow, one day I would love to play here for the New York Mets against the Dodgers.' It's such a farfetched dream, to be able to do that is going to be an incredible experience, for my whole family.
"My parents have been able to come to New York and see me, but my grandparents are a lot older and they can't really travel, so they're going to be able to come to games. When I was in high school they were coming to watch me play, and they haven't really seen me play since. Because I probably haven't played a game in southern California in probably, I don't know, eight years. For them to be able to watch me play is going to be a really cool experience."
On Monday, the priority was just enjoying the tranquility of an off-day. As he was arriving at the Fan Cave, Satin received a text from teammate Ike Davis. "Get over here," Davis commanded.
Davis and Satin are the top two first basemen on the Mets' depth chart, although they manned each corner on Sunday, and their connection goes well beyond that. They played in the Pac-10 Conference, Davis for Arizona State and Satin for California. They have gone through the rigors of learning your way onto a big-league roster and staying there -- Davis most notably, having struggled badly but now ranking fourth in the National League with a .417 on-base percentage since his recall on July 5.
After the visit to the Fan Cave -- where he won in ping-pong, billiards and even made a bag toss behind his back -- Satin headed for Davis' house. It was time to veg out all day.
"Just kind of relax, stay off your feet," Satin said. "The grind of the season is incredible, so any off-day you can, you've got to really try to relax, let your body heal up a little bit. We'll probably lay on the couch, watch a movie, play some video games. He introduced me to this thing in New York called Seamless (a food-delivery app), and I used it pretty much every day. It's kind of the lazy man's way to eat. He said he wants to order it four times today, so we'll probably do that.
"In Spring Training, we played this game called FIFA, a soccer game. We had some intense battles. It's been a tradition the last three years, every Spring Training we spend every night playing the game. It's also a good way to stay off your feet. We're all competitive, so it allows us to keep that competitive edge. But for some reason this year, everyone bailed on FIFA, and now we play this NHL game. ... Guys have it in the clubhouse, for a 7 o'clock game, guys are getting there at 1 o'clock to play a hockey game against each other."
Satin, 28, was drafted by the Mets in the sixth round in 2008. He was called up on June 11 from Triple-A Las Vegas, his third time up. He hit in a career-best and team-high 11 straight games (18-44) from June 25-July 7, and reached base in 16 consecutive games. He is trying to regain that momentum.
"The first month I was here, I was feeling great," he said. "It was just one of those times where you get into a zone where everything is working for you. It's been a little tougher for me lately. But I've learned a ton. First of all, I've learned that this league is hard. Anyone who says it's not is crazy. Every day, no matter what team it is, the starting pitcher they have is good -- better than any pitcher you'll face in the Minor Leagues anywhere. And then every guy in the bullpen is throwing 95 miles an hour now.
"You have to be mentally strong every day. ... You can't take pitches off. You can't relax, because once you relax and think, 'I'm killin' it right now,' the game comes back to bite you."
As for the Mets' future, just talk to Satin and you can sense a bubbling optimism. If you ever heard Willie McGee talk, you would even swear they were similar words.
"I think the future of the Mets organization is incredibly bright. I'm not just saying that because I'm a part of it. I think we have a ton of talent on the pitching side, and we have a lot of really good players who have gained experience this year. I'm not looking ahead past this season, but a week ago I would have said we're ready to go to finish this season strong to make a playoff push. It's going to be tough without David [Wright] in there. We're still going to do anything we can to try.
"But as far as the future of the Mets, I would say in 2014, watch out for the New York Mets."