Pat Roessler has largely been the quiet man behind the scenes. The assistant hitting coach was the one in the batting cage during most of the games and shied away from talking to reporters for the most part.
But don’t underestimate the influence he had on the Mets over the last two seasons.
Working with Kevin Long, he developed strong relationships with the players, including Daniel Murphy. How close did Roessler get with the former Mets and current Nationals second baseman? So close that when Roessler and his wife decided to move their offseason home to be closer to their daughter in in the Washington, D.C. area, Murphy, who was in his offseason home in Florida, simply gave his old hitting coach the keys to his home while the couple hunted for a house.
“He’s not just a hitting coach,” Murphy said this spring, “but he’s a friend, a brother and I would do anything for him.”
With the Mets now ready to move on from Long, it looks like they will retain half of the successful tandem that ran the Mets offense for the past two seasons. Roessler and the Mets are finalizing a two-year deal as of Wednesday, two sources told the News.
For a team that is taking a chance on a first-time manager in Mickey Callaway, who was the pitching coach in Cleveland, some continuity and experience on the staff will be important.
Roessler has been with the Mets for two seasons. He was looking for a bigger role going forward, especially after turning down an opportunity to be a major league hitting coach within the division last winter. With the Mets now basically accepting the fact that Long is not coming back, Roessler’s responsibilities will expand.
Roessler spent 10 seasons as the head of player development with the Yankees, overseeing the young careers of player that are now called the Baby Bombers. He also spent two seasons as the hitting coach for the Montreal Expos in 2000 and 2001.
Under Long and Roessler, the Mets were second in the National League in home runs last season – despite losing sluggers Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto to injuries and Neil Walker, Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce to trades.
Long said Tuesday he was uncertain of his future with the Mets.
All Mets coaches except third base coach Glenn Sherlock had their contracts expire Tuesday, but the team expects to be announcing a staff for Callaway soon. They expect that will be without Long, who interviewed for the manager’s job as well. Last month, Mets GM Sandy Alderson admitted that Long was disappointed with having been passed over for the job.
Despite the decision to go with Callaway, the Mets had talked to Long about switching positions for 2018. With Callaway a first-year manager and coming from the background of being a pitching coach, the Mets discussed the possibility of Long becoming the bench coach.
Long, however, had other managerial opportunities and was given permission by the Mets for other teams to interview him.
The Nationals reportedly interviewed Long as a manager before they hired Davey Martinez. According to a report in the Washington Post, the Nationals are interested in Long as a hitting coach. He would have strong support in that clubhouse with Murphy.
The Yankees, who are also looking for a manager to replace Joe Girardi, have expressed interest in Long coming back to the Bronx, where he served as the hitting coach for seven seasons.
Long developed a strong rapport with the players there and has a strong relationship with veteran outfielder Brett Gardner.
“He’s a great communicator, he’s a guy who is very, very positive and he helps you find what you need to help yourself,” said Gardner of Long last month when the hitting coach was going for the Mets job. “I never had him as a
manager, but his ability to communicate and understand the game, that is something that would make him a good manager.
“I really hope he gets a chance.”
It may be unlikely that Long takes over the helm of the Yankees with no major league managing experience, but there is interest in him returning as a coach, according to sources.
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