Satin looks to build off success at the plate in '13
Mets first baseman altered offseason regimen to sustain offensive rhythm
NEW YORK -- Josh Satin had always gone into the offseason with a familiar plan. He'd return to his native California and take a week off before starting to work on conditioning his body through a rigorous routine. It included lifting weights, running or even yoga, but Satin wouldn't begin baseball activities until January.
For the first time, Satin figured he'd amend those plans this winter.
"I like where I'm at right now, and I don't want to lose it, and I want to build off it," Satin said during the final weekend of the season. "That's the biggest key. The only way to build off it is if you don't have to start from scratch, you start where you are."
The 28-year-old was finishing up his first extended stretch in the Major Leagues after he was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas on June 11. In 75 games, Satin hit .279 with three home runs, 17 RBIs and a .376 on-base percentage. He proved to the Mets and to himself that he gives the team a reliable bat off the bench, in the process working his way into the fold for 2014.
Satin earned his chance to stay in the big leagues this past season, something he hadn't done in his previous opportunities. He played in 15 games with the Mets in 2011, going 5-for-25 with 11 strikeouts, and he only played in one Major League game in 2012. So when the Mets sent Ike Davis to the Minors to correct his swing during his season of struggles, they called up Satin to help fill the void at first base.
"When he was playing every day when he first got here, he did a heck of a job offensively, did a heck of a job defensively," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I think he's opened some eyes."
When he first arrived, Satin spoke about the adjustments he made in the Minor Leagues. He widened his stance to have more balance in the box. Satin took a more patient approach at the plate. All of it paid off. In 60 Triple-A games, he hit .305 with nine home runs and 32 RBIs.
But there's a difference between producing in the Minor Leagues and producing in the Majors, and Satin knew it. He said once he moved past the thought of playing under the bright lights, in front of thousands of people, against pitchers he grew up watching, he settled in and started hitting with the same success he had in the Minors.
"Taking that out of the equation and allowing yourself to play like you always have is the biggest key," Satin said. "It took me a couple games to actually do that, but eventually I was able to settle down and try to play as I've always played."
That level of comfort translated to hits, which earned Satin bigger opportunities, especially against left-handed pitching. The right-handed-hitting Satin hit .317 with a .404 OBP against lefties. When David Wright went on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, Collins often hit Satin in Wright's usual third spot in the lineup against left-handers.
"I don't think anyone's ever questioned the fact that offensively, he goes out there and puts up good at-bats, can drive in runs," Wright said. "I think he can excel both as an everyday player or a right-handed bat off the bench."
Satin also came through for the Mets in big spots.
In Atlanta on June 20, Satin drove in the game-winning run with a double to right field in the seventh inning. On July 1 against the D-backs, he hit a game-tying single in the ninth hitting. Against the Royals on Aug. 3, Satin hit a game-tying two-run single in the eighth. And on Sept. 18 against the Giants, he hit a walk-off single against Sergio Romo.
Satin proved his value at the plate, but the problem going into next season is one he's encountered before: He doesn't have a set position. With Wright at third base and the Mets' logjam at first base with Davis and Lucas Duda -- assuming they both remain on the roster -- Satin's role is unclear.
But the Mets are unwilling to lose his bat, so Collins said he'd like to see Satin play other positions in Spring Training to become more versatile.
Regardless of where he plays in the field, Satin knows he'll only have another opportunity if he continues to hit like he did in 2013.
"For me still, I've had a brief time where I've had success," Satin said. "By no means have I made it or anything. You have to sustain it. That's the key to being a Major League Baseball player is sustained success for years."
So that's why Satin will increase the amount he hits this offseason. Instead of beginning in January and needing a couple weeks to shake off the rust, he said he planned on spending some time hitting and throwing throughout the winter. It won't be much through the early portion of the offseason, but enough that he doesn't lose rhythm at the plate completely.
The questions Satin used to have about whether he could perform at the Major League level have dissipated. He headed into the offseason with a much different mindset.
"I think that for the first time," Satin said, "I proved that I can play in the big leagues."
Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.