Brian Dozier: Brodie Van Wagenen, Mets COVID protocols won me over

Brian Dozier. (Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets wasted no time getting Brian Dozier into the mix.

Almost immediately after recalling him from their alternate summer camp site in Brooklyn, the Mets confirmed that the veteran second baseman will make his team and 2020 season debut on Thursday night against the Boston Red Sox at Citi Field.

The Mets signed the Mississippi native to a minor-league deal just two days before Opening Day shortly after being getting out of his contract with the San Diego Padres — a short stint that he described as “a debacle.”

“I’m a big transparent guy, I want people to be honest with me,” Dozier said. “That wasn’t the case over there by any means. So I had to get out of there.”

At 33 years old, the eight-year veteran spent the 2019 season with the world-champion Washington Nationals, slashing .238/.340.430 with 20 home runs and 50 RBI.

But there was no guarantee that he would play in 2020 after the pandemic. Dozier’s wife is 18 weeks pregnant and initially did not want to risk his family’s health and safety.

“I’m huge on my faith. I prayed on it a lot… At first, didn’t think it was going to be a fit for us this year… I kept going back and forth but I think quarantined with my wife and seeing her every day for a month, she was probably going to kick me out,” he said jokingly.

After getting the green light from his family, Dozier began speaking with teams, but it was his talks with Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen along with the health and safety measures taken by the club during the pandemic that convinced him to come to New York.

“The excitement, the young talent, it’s amazing to watch,” he said. “Obviously, the arms speak for themselves with Jacob deGrom leading the way.”

“I think it’s a good spot.”

Dozier is just a few years removed from being one of the best power hitters at his position, slugging 42 home runs in 2016 and 34 the following year with the Minnesota Twins.

It’s his success off left-handers that is getting him a chance in Queens, though. Over his career, Dozier has slashed .270/.354/.500 against southpaws.

“Whatever the team needs in any kind of situation,” Dozier said. “Play second, play short, third… I’m here.”

He’ll face Boston’s lefty Martin Perez on Thursday night in the No. 7 spot of the Mets’ lineup. In his career versus the Red Sox pitcher, he’s 5-for-14 with two home runs and a double.

“Right out of the shoot, he’s in the lineup facing a lefty,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “That’s one of his strengths. We know his bat… It’s a guy who can give you steady defense at second.”

Rojas also cited the opportunity to give veteran second baseman Robinson Cano a night off amid the packed 60-game MLB schedule.

Regardless of the reason, it provides the Mets with MLB-caliber depth during the uncertainty that comes with playing amidst a pandemic.

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