Upon being dealt to the Pirates last winter for 2B Neil Walker, SP Jonathan Niese seemed to take a shot at his former Mets teammates when telling reporters, “I’m sure what I’ll appreciate more than anything is the way [the Pirates] play defense.”. On Tuesday, Niese faced a modest media scrum in Queens after returning to the Mets in exchange for reliever Antonio Bastardo and cash, and successfully backpedaled like he was Carmelo Anthony running away from Mardy Collins. From the NY Post’s Mike Puma :

“I know my teammates and I think they knew what I meant by what I said,” Niese said at Citi Field before the Mets faced the Yankees. “And from what I said, I never really meant to criticize the Mets’ defense. All I really said was that I was excited to pitch in front of the Pirates’ defense, so it’s unfortunate the way it got turned around, because it’s certainly not what I meant by it.

“But I have talked to a lot of the guys in the clubhouse and they respect me and I respect them and I’ve always loved them from the first time that I have played with them.”