NEW YORK -- Danny Muno is headed to Queens as the New York Mets balance their roster.
Muno, 26, was pulled from Triple-A Las Vegas' game at Sacramento in the third inning on Thursday and summoned to the major league club. The Mets will not announce the corresponding roster move until Friday, although a team official indicated the plan is to shed a reliever. That will allow the Mets to have a standard bench of five position players.
Muno can play multiple infield positions and is a switch-hitter, giving manager Terry Collins a second lefty bat on the bench with Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Muno conceivably could see some action at third base with David Wright on the disabled list, although Eric Campbell has capably handled the role so far.
Mets officials have said they prefer leaving Matt Reynolds, a higher-tier infield prospect, at Las Vegas to play every day unless he would have a regular role in the majors.
Muno was off to a .211 start at Las Vegas. He had two RBIs, two steals and three walks in 22 plate appearances.
He has received relatively little publicity during his five years in the Mets organization, but his hitting style perfectly fits the front office’s philosophy. At Fresno State, Muno set the school’s career walks record midway through his junior season. As a professional, he has a career .395 on-base percentage.
Muno hit .259 with 14 homers and 62 RBIs last season at Las Vegas. His proficiency for getting on base is comparable to previous front-office darling Josh Satin.
“Coach [Mike] Batesole at Fresno State taught me a lot about how to see pitches and work the count,” Muno said recently. “That’s been my forté. I’ve just been trying to get on base, score runs, help the team win.”
In the minors, Muno has played 239 games at second base, 108 games at shortstop and 26 games at third base.
“I’m natural at pretty much all of them,” Muno said. “I played all of them in college. I played them for years. I’m comfortable at all three.”
As a freshman, Muno was the starting shortstop on Fresno State’s College World Series championship team. That season, the Bulldogs knocked out Ike Davis and Arizona State in a super regional. Muno homered against Rice in the CWS opener.
“One of the best experiences of my life so far,” Muno said.
He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 26th round in 2010, but chose to return to college for his senior season.
Muno became a full-time switch-hitter at a relatively late stage. As a freshman batting lefty at Fresno State, he struggled against left-handed pitching, including against University of San Diego southpaw and future Baltimore Oriole Brian Matusz. So Muno went to switch-hitting for his sophomore season.
Right-handed hitting actually was his natural side. But at age 11, his father Kevin made him start hitting entirely left-handed in the batting cage in the family’s backyard.
“I wasn’t very good right-handed,” Muno said.
Kevin Muno was a punter on Notre Dame’s 1977 national championship team that beat Texas in the Cotton Bowl. He transferred after his sophomore year to Houston and only played baseball. Danny Muno’s grandfather, Larry, negotiated Joe Montana’s first contract with the San Francisco 49ers. Montana and Kevin Muno were teammates at Notre Dame.
The one major negative in Danny Muno’s career was a 50-game suspension in May 2012 for testing positive for the anabolic steroid Drostanolone.
Muno said he takes “full responsibility.” He was playing for Class A St. Lucie at the time.
“It was a mistake in my life,” he said. “I ultimately came out of it a stronger and better person and learned a lot. It was a tough time in my life, but I learned from it.”
Meanwhile, even stadium public-address announcers lack familiarity with Muno, often giving him a Spanish accent, “Muño.”
“It’s pretty funny,” said Muno (pronounced Myoo-no). “It doesn’t bother me too much.”