Graves: 'I definitely feel like I'm a Met'

NEW YORK -- Pedro Martinez burst into the New York Mets' clubhouse, cheerfully announced his arrival and gave Danny Graves a warm hug.

"Welcome aboard!" Martinez exclaimed. "Another crazy guy in this room!"

Not just yet, Pedro.

Graves, tattooed on his back and pierced on his chest, was close to signing with the Mets on Wednesday, a move they hope will bolster their bullpen. But it sure looked as though he was already a member of the team.

Wearing a New York jersey with No. 32 and his name stitched on the back, Graves worked out at Shea Stadium for the second consecutive day. He undressed in front of a locker, and Mets players spoke about him as if he were already a teammate.

Released by Cincinnati last week, the Reds' former closer said he told his agents he's sure he wants to pitch for the Mets and he is extremely excited about joining a contender.

"It's definitely close," Graves said. "In my mind, I definitely feel like I'm a Met."

ESPN's Peter Gammons reported Tuesday that Graves had signed with the Mets after being released by the Reds on Thursday and clearing waivers.

Graves has struggled since he was converted into a starter with Cincinnati two years ago, a failed experiment. His velocity has decreased and his control has eluded him. Back in the bullpen, he was 1-1 with 10 saves and a 7.76 ERA this season.

Graves said Mets players have already told him he was tipping his pitches the last couple years, and he knows how to correct that.

The right-hander has 182 saves in 10 major-league seasons but was designated for assignment by the Reds on May 23, a day after making an obscene gesture at a fan who was heckling him.

"What I did wasn't right. I even planned an apology for the next day, but I didn't get a chance to give it," Graves said. "The guy verbally insulted my family. It really hit home. I shouldn't have done it. I'm here to start all over."

Graves was released when Cincinnati was unable to work out a trade for him and now says that was "a blessing in disguise."

He is in the final year of a $17.25 million, three-year deal that pays him $6.25 million this season. The Mets would be responsible for only a portion of that amount.

Graves said the Mets were the only team that showed interest in him beyond this season.

"I just wish it would hurry up and happen. I'm coming in every day hoping something is done," he said. "According to my agents and the Mets, it's pretty close."

Graves faced a hitter on Wednesday. Mets manager Willie Randolph and pitching coach Rick Peterson watched him throw 21 pitches to Ramon Castro before batting practice.

"He just threw free and easy, it was a regular workout," Randolph said.