Mets LF Cliff Floyd, a regular subject of trade rumors, showed all the mobility last year of George Wallace going uphill. So it makes perfect sense that Floyd is promising to tear up the basepaths this season.
Floyd said he plans to steal 20 to 25 bases this season under manager Willie Randolph’s green-light system.
“If I’m going to steal bases, I’ve got to see if I can do it,” Floyd said. “Everything’s still intact.”
Floyd once stole 27 bases, but that was in 1998, when he was 25. He has a total of 14 in his two injury-plagued Mets seasons. So it was a surprise to see him take off in the first inning yesterday and slide in safely ahead of Javy Lopez’s bounced throw.
“It’s a hell of a difference when you have two feet under you,” Floyd said. “It’s common sense, but it’s a good feeling.
“I’m not the home run hitter. I’d like to do a lot of things. That’s my game. Run, hit some balls in the gap, firsts-and-thirds, score from first when I have to. That’s just an added dimension I’ve missed the last few years.”
Whether this is just spring-training talk remains to be seen. At least Floyd, while saying the right Achilles tendon he had surgically repaired in 2003 felt as good as it had in five years, didn’t claim to be in the best shape of his life. But his being a more complete player would allow general manager Omar Minaya to feel better about the two years left on the four-year, $26-million contract he inherited and was unable to unload this offseason.
Randolph doesn’t care about contracts, but he’d like to pencil in a healthy and productive Floyd in the No. 5 spot every day.
Told that Floyd wanted to swipe as many as 25 bases, Randolph said, “He said that, really? I’ll take 20, actually. That would be nice. He’s feeling good and I like that attitude. I know he can do it. Obviously, if he’s healthy, I think he can do a lot of things. I don’t think he has to prove it to me.”
“Me hitting fifth will allow me to steal more bases,” Floyd said. “When you hit in the top of the order, it’s kind of hard. You don’t want to take the bat out of Beltran’s hands, Piazza’s hands. But to get into scoring position for David Wright or whoever the heck’s hitting .behind you, it’s crucial. I’m going to steal until they start paying attention, then I’ll chill out for a little while.”