NEW YORK -- Late in the 2012 season, when Billy Hamilton was well on his way to setting a minor-league single-season record with 155 steals, Anthony Recker twice thought he had caught Hamilton on the basepaths in the Double-A Southern League.
Hamilton Recker “Honestly, I’d like to say I threw him out twice in two tries, but both times they called him safe,” Recker recalled Friday night. “My shortstop told me he was out both times. So I’ll believe him, because I thought I had him both times.
“At the time, it was after he had already broken the record in the minor leagues. It was at the end of 2012 and he already had 100-and-I-don’t-know-how-many stolen bases.”
Recker got an out call at an opportune time Friday.
Hamilton, pinch-running in the eighth inning with the Cincinnati Reds trailing by a run, was thrown out by Recker attempting to steal for the second out of that frame. The Mets ultimately held on for a 4-3 victory.
“He’s just as fast as he was then,” Recker said. “So, yeah, he can still run.”
The Mets are actually the only team to throw out Hamilton in his big-league career. Hamilton has 13 successful steals in 15 attempts. Juan Centeno threw him out last Sept. 25.
As for Recker, he looked vastly improved throwing to second base during spring training. Last season, he threw out only seven of 34 would-base base stealers.
“Last season I didn’t throw the ball as well as I know I could,” Recker said. “So I made a point to really work on that in the offseason -- my footwork.
“Honestly, I just made everything simple. Just getting better direction toward second base and really just trying to keep my arm as ‘short’ as possible. That’s really it.”