NEW YORK -- Kirk Nieuwenhuis did not figure he would be a New York Mets player again once he was designated for assignment by the club, then traded to the Los Angeles Angels for cash on May 27. So let’s just say producing a three-homer game for the Amazin’s and getting a curtain call at Citi Field were not things he expected ever again at that point.
Nieuwenhuis homered in his first three at-bats Sunday, driving in four runs, as the surging Mets entered the All-Star break with a 5-3 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
He became the 10th player in franchise history with a three-homer game, and the first since Ike Davis in 2012. Nieuwenhuis is the only Mets player to perform the feat at home.
Nieuwenhuis entered the game 7-for-66 and homerless this season between the Mets and Angels. He took Rubby De La Rosa deep in each of his first two at-bats, then also homered against Randall Delgado in the fifth before finally striking out against Andrew Chafin in the seventh. He even got cheers after the strikeout.
Nieuwenhuis said he never considered quitting baseball during his struggles. But this season definitely has put the sport in perspective.
“There’s more to life than baseball. Sometimes that’s really hard to realize as players, as competitive as we are,” Nieuwenhuis said. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell yourself, but it’s reality.”
Nieuwenhuis acknowledged considering that he might not make it back to the majors after flopping with the Angels, then getting claimed off waivers by the Mets and assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas.
“Anytime something like that happens or you get injured, it crosses your mind,” he said. “But never to quit, no.”
He called the Mets bringing him back to the organization with a waiver claim “interesting.”
He added: “But I was super happy to come back and see familiar faces.”
Nieuwenhuis called the curtain call “unbelievable.” He received prodding -- unnecessary prodding -- from Daniel Murphy to accept the fans' cheering after the third homer.
“That was something I won’t forget for a really long time,” Nieuwenhuis said. “Murph was telling me to get out there, but I knew what it was. I’ve watched enough TV.”