Friday, February 11, 2011
#387) KEVIN BAEZ
Kevin Baez joined the New York Mets when they selected him in the seventh round of the free agent draft on June 1, 1988. The 21-year old shortstop from Brooklyn, New York started his professional career later that season with the Little Falls Mets of the Appalachian League.
The Mets starting shortstop, Kevin Elster suffered season-ending shoulder surgery and the club turned to Baez as a solution. He was promoted from Double-A Jackson on August 28, 1990. "He can play," offered Mets manager, Bud Harrelson. "The report to me on him was that he'll bleed for you." The rookie had grown up just 20 miles away and recalls his first time at Shea Stadium, "I remember standing on the top step of the Mets dugout. Looking out at the enormous park, at all the people in the stadium where I dreamed of playing as a kid. I was too excited to be nervous."
He made his big league debut on September 3rd. Entering into the game as a late inning defensive replacement at shortstop in St. Louis during the victory over the Cardinals. Kevin would appear in five games to close the season. In a small sampling of 12 at-bats he hit for a .167 batting average.
Baez was not summoned back to New York until April 24, 1992. In his second game following the recall he made a grave error. He allowed Phillies pitcher, Mitch Williams to pick him off as a pinch-runner during the ninth-inning. The move was a definite rally killer and the Mets fell 5-4 in Philadelphia. "I wasn't even too far off," Kevin said. "I guess I hesitated a slight second. I'd like to apologize to the entire club." Baez was returned to Triple-A, not to return until rosters expanded in September. He appeared in six games between the two stints over the 1992 season, and dropped to a .154 battting average.
Kevin got the opportunity to play most of the next year in New York. A situation aided by infielder Howard Johnson's fractured right thumb in July. The struggles at the plate continued for Baez throughout his 126 at-bats in 52 games. He finished with a low batting average and little RBI production. The Mets dealt Kevin along with Tom Wegmann to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for David Segui on March 27, 1994. "The Mets said they would trade me where I'd get an opportunity," he said. "They traded me to the worst place ever." Baez would not play in another major-league game.
Kevin became a baseball coach following his active career. Even serving as a member of the New York Mets staff in 2007. "I loved working for the Mets organization," Baez told the Daily News in 2010. "But I had a baby son, the job required a lot of travel and I really wanted to stay closer to my home. My wife's job had taken us from Brooklyn to Long Island and so I took a job coaching for the Long Island Ducks. I'm a Long Islander now and know how what this team means to the fans out here." Kevin was named the Ducks manager in 2011.
Since 2005, he has been part of the staff at Matt Guliano's- Play Like a Pro training facility in Hauppauge, New York.