Ok, saying that Kirk Nieuwenhuis doesn’t hit isn’t very nice. He started the day 7-for-66 on the season and had already been designated for assignment twice. So, Sunday is likely to be the best day of his entire career.
The first time he was DFA’d was by his current team, the New York Mets. He was picked up off waivers by the Los Angeles Angels who later DFA’d him and the Mets’ decided they wanted him back.
That’s where the real story of the day begins. It was Nieuwenhuis’ first game back with the Mets after the roller coaster he’d been on and he was excited to be back at the yard saying,
“I was super happy to come back and see familiar faces.”
It couldn’t have been easy being on two different teams in one season, then thinking you don’t have a job and suddenly you are back with the team that dropped you in the first place. But besides seeing familiar faces, Nieuwenhuis talked about how hard it is for a player to try to adjust to an average life,
There’s more to life than baseball, and sometimes that’s really hard to feel and to realize as players. Just happy to be back with these guys and go to battle with them,” he said.
He then went on to go yard three times in a single game. Nieuwenhuis didn’t have to say “I’m happy to be back.” He more than showed everyone with his bat, hitting two off of Arizona Diamondbacks starter Rubby De La Rosa in the second and then again in the third. They were his first home runs of the season.
Nieuwenhuis then came up to bat in the fifth facing DBacks’ reliever Randall Delgado, making the crowd go crazy and honor Nieuwenhuis with a standing ovation. He was going for what would have been a historic fourth home run in his final at-bat facing Andrew Chafin but he ended the day with a strikeout.
A fourth home run would have tied a Major League Record that was last tied by Josh Hamilton in 2012.
Still for Nieuwenhuis it was a day he’ll never forget and it’s a pretty impressive feat to have on your resume. And the memory of the fans’ ovation will be forever etched in Nieuwenhuis’ memory.
“The curtain call was unbelievable,” Nieuwenhuis said. “Something I won’t forget for a really long time. That was special.
And who knows? I’m not familiar with Nieuwenhuis’ background enough to know if he had just been struggling and finally came around or if it was a one-time thing. What I do know is that without him on Sunday, the suddenly surging Mets’ wouldn’t have been able to complete their sweep over Arizona. For Nieuwenhuis and the Mets it was definitely a good end to the first half of the 2015 season.