Mets closer Familia makes season debut after 15-game ban
New York Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia heads to the dugout during the ninth inning of the team’s baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday, April 20, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
NEW YORK — Jeurys Familia drew cheers from the home crowd at Citi Field as he jogged in from the bullpen and went right to work, pitching a scoreless ninth inning. Later, the New York Mets closer walked out of the clubhouse, found his wife in a hallway and gave her a quick kiss.
‘I think he did great,’ said his wife, Bianca Rivas. Smiling and holding up her fingers, she added: ‘Two strikeouts.’
Familia rejoined the team after serving a 15-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. In his season debut, the reliever who led the majors with 51 saves last year worked around two walks during a hitless inning Thursday night in a 6-4 loss to Philadelphia.
‘I’m feeling good. I think I got a little bit excited. Happy to be back,’ he said.
Familia said he appreciated the reception.
‘I feel happy to be back and for the support from the fans. It’s nice to me. Definitely, everything’s good,’ he said.
New York manager Terry Collins said before the game that he originally planned to ease Familia back into action but, with a worn-down bullpen, ‘that may not be the case tonight’ against Philadelphia.
His assessment of Familia’s outing?
‘Rusty, to say the least,’ Collins said. ‘He certainly needs to get out there more.’
The 27-year-old Familia set a team record for saves last year. The suspension cost him $730,328 of his $7,425,000 salary.
Familia hugged several Phillies in the outfield during batting practice and spent the rest of the time shagging flyballs with his teammates.
‘I’m very happy to be back with this team,’ he said. ‘I’ve missed these guys very much.’
Familia took part in spring training and recently pitched two scoreless innings in the minors while preparing for his return.
Familia was arrested last October on a simple assault charge after his wife was left with scratches on her chest and a bruise on her cheek. A judge dismissed charges in December after Familia’s wife told a prosecutor her husband did not hurt her.
Addison Reed, usually the Mets’ setup man, picked up all four saves for the club while Familia was suspended and Collins hoped to avoid overusing him. The team’s relievers hit a rough patch lately, not that Familia saw those struggles.
Familia said he’d see some of the Mets’ games, but not all of them, while ‘working out, preparing for this moment.’