He may not pitch an inning in a major-league uniform this month, but no player was happier to put on the uniform before last night's game – that was eventually rained out – than pitching prospect Phillip Humber.
Humber, a first-round draft choice in 2004, had reconstructive elbow surgery last July. He said last night that he was worried when he first arrived in spring training because he couldn't even throw off a mound yet.
But he recovered so well that after excelling in seven starts at Class A St. Lucie, he was promoted to Double-A Binghamton on Aug. 1 and had a 2.28 ERA in six starts. That, plus he hard work to come back from the serious surgery, earned him a recall that he'll remember forever.
"Just to be around this team is an honor," Humber said. "If I pitch at all, it's icing on the cake. My arm feels great."
He said his fastball is in the 91-94 range, just about what it was before his surgery, and he had command of his curve and changeup as well. "Willie [Randolph] told me to soak it all in," Humber said. "I can't wait to watch guys like John Smoltz [scheduled to start for the Braves today] pitch in front of 40,000 people."
Randolph called Humber, "a part of our future. It's nice to give him a taste of the big-league experience. He worked hard. It's a reward."
The ultimate reward would be for Humber to get into a game. Randolph said it's not in his immediate plans, but once the Mets clinch, why not give the kid a chance?