Quotebook: Doug Mientkiewicz

The Mets are looking at new first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz as a stabilizing force of their infield this season, lending a veteran presence to assist second-year major leaguers David Wright and Kaz Matsui and young shortstop Jose Reyes. <P> Mientkiewicz held court with the press this week to discuss the position swap between Reyes and Matsui, his personal situation with a new club and more:

On getting used to playing with a new infield: "It's going to take all spring and probably into the first couple months of the season as a learning process. I've spoken to each one [in the infield] individually to try and get a game plan. All of the coaches have done more than I'm accustomed to as far going over positioning and everything to defensively be prepared."

On what he's done so far with Matsui and Reyes: "We haven't done a lot. I haven't done specific double plays with them, but they've been doing them on their own and I've been kind of watching. That's going to be the hardest thing for [Matsui], doing the pivots and basically having his back to the runner. Time will tell how long it takes, but if he can play shortstop, he can play second and vice versa. They're not short on talent, that's for sure. They're great athletes and they'll figure it out.

They're working harder than any two guys I've seen in my years of playing baseball. They've got a lot riding on their shoulders. We've got to catch the balls in the infield, because if we catch the balls, we're going to win. We're stressing that now and hopefully we can do that."

On catching throws from Reyes: "It's going to take me a while to get used to Jose's arm. I'm sure I'll take a couple off the wrist before spring training is over with. He has that carry on the ball that most guys don't have.

(Former Twins teammate) Cristian Guzman is a good example; he had that before he hurt his shoulder. Guzzy and I worked so long together, we got him to use his feet more. I know when you're young and you have a cannon, you want to use it every time, but ultimately we'll get him to realize you don't need to use it every time.

Save it, you're not going to be 20 your whole life. You're going to need it when you're 30, and I don't think I have enough [glove] webbings to last a whole year with him firing it over there."

On developing a rapport with his infield: "I was fortunate to play in the same infield for almost eight or nine years. I knew when there was a ground ball hit to a certain guy, I'd know what expect. That takes time, but the more I'm out with these guys, the more comfortable I'll be."

On whether he'll be a 'leader' for the team: "I'm not going to rah-rah. I'm not good enough do that. There are plenty of guys here that they'll look to lead other than myself.

Hopefully, in the little things like pitching changes, we'll all stand together. That's what spring training is for, to get know each other and spend time together.

The more you're around somebody, the more you understand them. You don't want to be there as a player, you want to be there as a guy too, knowing about their personal life and stuff like that. If they want to talk, that's what the game's about. That's what teammates are for.

I've been fortunate to play on teams where guys are like brothers, and that goes a long way. That's why we've won. You get stuff done – the stretching gets done quicker, and during games we pull together and stay together. This seems like a good group of guys, with no problems, and I'm looking forward to playing with them."


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