- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
PORT ST. LUCIE -- Mike Piazza is back home this week.
The 45-year-old Piazza, the all-time leader in homers by a catcher, is serving as a guest instructor this week at New York Mets camp. It marks his first time back in uniform with the organization since his playing days.
Piazza said chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon invited him to spring training last September, when he was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame at Citi Field. Piazza also serves as a part-time coach with the Italian baseball federation, including training that country's players in Vero Beach, Fla., last week.
"For me it's very rewarding to coach and to try to help a little bit," Piazza said. "So I'm excited to be here."
Still, Piazza is not currently looking for full-time work in coaching.
"I've got a 7-month-old kid. I just left him last night," Piazza said. "He's a lot of fun. But this is fun for me. And I'm blessed to have these opportunities to do it on a part-time basis. I don't know what the future holds. I'm just enjoying the day.
"It's fun to get back in uniform and be around the clubhouse. And I feel like I have a lot to teach. Obviously I feel like I got a lot out of my ability when I played. If I could just talk to some young guys and maybe help them advance their careers, it's very rewarding."
Travis d'Arnaud, who grew up a Los Angeles Dodgers fan revering Piazza, is particularly excited to have Piazza in camp. The two have met a couple of times, including last year's induction ceremony in Queens.
"It's a dream," d'Arnaud said. "I loved how he hit and I loved how the pitchers loved throwing to him. So I tried to transform that into my game when I was a little kid."
Said Piazza: "He seems like a really nice kid and very humble."
What might Piazza discuss with d'Arnaud?
"No. 1 is just for him to stay healthy -- to take care of himself and be consistent, stay off the roller coaster, which the game can be sometimes," Piazza said. "You don't have to always go out there and get the big hit. You can go out and catch a good ballgame or block a pitch with the tying or winning run on third -- understanding behind the plate there's a lot you can do.
"For me, obviously, I was more of an offensive-oriented catcher. But as a catcher you still can contribute in many ways to get the confidence of the pitching staff."