|Piazza excited to return to Shea, will return to catching|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 22 June 2007 13:19|
Ironically, he isn't playing in New York this weekend because Oakland doesn't want him to DH anymore.
Piazza, out because of a right shoulder injury since May 3, was ready to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento last weekend when he got a phone call.
``They said, 'Right now we wanted to make sure you could catch as well,''' Piazza said before the start of a three-game series Friday night. ``So that's what kind of put a change in the plans.''
Piazza said he's ready to hit. But preparing to catch, something he hasn't done since last year in San Diego, is another story.
``Obviously throwing-wise I've got a ways to go,'' Piazza said. ``It'll hopefully be a couple of weeks and I'll be back out there. I'm excited about it.
``I wasn't throwing like Johnny Bench before I got hurt, so I don't think anyone is expecting me to set the world on fire.''
Piazza said he is getting used to the idea of catching again, even if the call took him by surprise.
``It was a little touch and go, because obviously my job description from the outset was to go out and DH. That's the way the game goes,'' he said.
``I feel I can help them out behind the plate. I'll try to bring some of my knowledge back there and help these guys, give Jason (Kendall) a rest.''
The 38-year-old Piazza signed an $8.5 million, one-year contract with Oakland in December. He was told he'd replace Frank Thomas as DH, and general manager Billy Beane repeatedly said he had no intention of using him as a catcher.
While Piazza was out, the team traded for career minor leaguer Jack Cust from San Diego. Cust has hit 10 homers and driven in 27 runs in 40 games for Oakland, essentially winning Piazza's job.
``We're looking at him to regain his catching again,'' manager Bob Geren said of Piazza. ``He's caught in the bullpen, he's doing some exercises for his arm.''
Geren said he hopes to use Piazza behind the plate two or three times a week once he's ready to play, and maybe twice a week as DH.
Piazza was the Mets' catcher from 1999 to 2005. In seven seasons with New York, he hit 197 home runs and batted better than .300 three times.
``I can't express how truly special it is to come back here because it was a big part of my life,'' Piazza said. ``I carry my years here with a lot of pride.
``I don't know where I'll be in 2009 when the new stadium opens, but I hope I can come see a game and get a seat, because I know they're going to be expensive.''