Den Dekker Ready To Go

Two things have remained constant in outfielder Matt den Dekker's game in recent years; he initially struggles at a level and then he eventually makes the adjustment. Despite finishing the second half of last season hitting .220 in Triple-A, he says he's ready to go in second big league camp and then follow it up with a full consistent 2013 campaign.

Not only did he hit .220 for the Buffalo Bisons last year, he struck out a whopping 90 times in 77 games. Those numbers were a far cry from his .340 average in Double-A Binghamton in the first half of the season.

"It was kind of similar to the year before," he said. "I started out hot for the first half and then couldn't keep it going for the second half.

"I got moved up both years and maybe that had an effect on me, but my goal for this year to put together a complete full season and not just be that guy that can perform just in the first half but do it all year round."

In 2011 he began the year hitting .296 in the first half of the season for the St. Lucie Mets before finishing out the year batting just .235 for Double-A Binghamton. While it would seem the step up in levels would be the reason, den Dekker thinks it's more than that.

"I thought I was up to the challenge of the [step up in] competition," he said. "It's such a mental game. When you struggle and let it keep building up and building up, you don't really get out of and it's really tough.

"You really have to minimize those times when you're struggling and when you're going good you really need to drag those [times] out.

"There's obviously guys who have been around longer in Triple-A so they can pitch better; they know their stuff and they've got their game plan, and this will be my third year and I've been around for a little bit now so I have to figure out my game plan, what I need to do, what I need to change, and what I need to do to be successful throughout the whole year.

"I know I can definitely play with those guys and play with those guys in the big leagues. I'm going to show them that I can do that, get up there and help make a difference for the team."

Den Dekker says he's changing his mindset for 2013, one that employs more of a shorter memory span and he's extremely confident that if he doesn't break camp with the big league club and is sent back to Triple-A that, just like he did repeating the Double-A level, he will be more of an impact player again.

"Oh yeah no question, I think I will," he said confidently. "It's just taking it one day at a time. You hear that all of the time but it's true when you have a 140-game season. You can't really look too far ahead.

"That's my main goal this year, to go out there everyday and see what happens, and not really let it affect me and minimize those down times, and work out of it when it does start to go south. Hitting has never really come easy for me, it's never really been my strong suit.

"I've just worked on it and done enough, and I'm hoping I can turn the corner and become the guy that's not just known for playing good defense but for also being a good offensive player as well."

Part of turning that proverbial corner is finding a swing that works for him and sticking with it even through the rough times.

"In my career from college until now I've probably changed my batting stance -- I couldn't even tell you how many times," he admitted. "When I'm struggling I change things.

"I just need to find something I'm comfortable with and stick with it. I'm actually going to heading to St. Lucie early and start working and get my swing figured out, and just get to where I feel comfortable. I did it last year too.

"I got there early and I think it benefited me a lot to get there early and figure some things out. Last year was my first year in big league camp and I don't want to get there and look lost so I'm going to get there early.

"I'm excited for my second turn around in big league camp. I know what's going on now and hopefully I can put together a good spring."

This year's camp will have a different feel for him, however. With the Mets in desperate need of outfielders he knows he is reaching a pivotal point in his career.

He wants to avoid putting any added pressure on himself knowing that he has a golden opportunity in front of him once camp opens up and he's ready to put his slow end to the 2012 season behind him.

"I can't change what happened at the end of last year so there's really no sense in thinking about it. I feel like it's right there for me now. This is a good opportunity and a big year.

"It's hard to not want to play well and feel that added pressure, but you've got to go out there and relax, breathe, and just play the game.

"It being my second time going to big league camp and I've been with the Mets three years now, it's definitely going to help me out. I'm just excited to get out there again.

"I'm pretty confident right now. I've been working out, I'm in good shape, and I'm going to get to Spring Training early. That helps with confidence, knowing that you're ready to go," he concluded.

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