Nady set to prove his Met-tle

NEW YORK – Xavier Nady was lying on a beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, when his cell phone began to buzz.

"Welcome to the New York Mets," the voice on the other end told him.

That was Nov. 19, weeks before the Mets traded for Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca, and before they signed free-agent closer Billy Wagner.

In many ways, acquiring Nady from the San Diego Padres for outfielder Mike Cameron broke the ice for the Mets' strong off-season, setting the tone for a roster shakeup while clearing salary to allow future deals.

Nady, 27, didn't realize much of that at the time.

All he knew then was that, finally, after scrapping for playing time over the last three years in San Diego, playing five different positions last season, it looked like Nady might have a chance to fit into a regular role.

"I was real excited to come here," Nady said Tuesday at the New York Public Library, where the Mets started their winter caravan. "It's always fun to have a new opportunity to develop and have a new opportunity to go play.

"I had a great couple of years in San Diego, but I think it's the nature of the industry. I'm excited to be here and that's all you can ask for."

At the time of the trade, Minaya characterized Nady as "a player who gives us a lot of flexibility in putting our team together for 2006," acknowledging that scouts believed he could hit for power and drive in runs as an everyday player.

The thinking then was that Nady could platoon in right field with Victor Diaz and at first base with Mike Jacobs, but the Delgado trade changed the landscape significantly.

Watching from afar, Nady said he became an orange-and-blue enthusiast, rooting on the Mets' winter movement.

It was pretty neat," Nady said. "When I was traded, I thought we had a great team as it is. And then they kept acquiring guys, and it was kind of like I was a fan – I was rooting and rooting for them to get certain guys.

"Once they did, I was getting calls from ex-teammates, saying, 'Man, your team's going to be great!'"

Now, Nady – who hit .261 with 13 home runs and 43 RBI in 124 games last year – appears to be the favorite to open the season in right field, though he said he hasn't heard that officially.

He has spoken with Minaya and assistant Tony Bernazard regarding his role with the team, but perhaps more importantly, has already finished his apartment shopping in New York.

A new summer home. Cabo can wait.

"I'm looking forward to having an opportunity to play," Nady said. "That's all I'd really asked for my last couple of years in San Diego. I don't come in for the competition; I'm coming in ready to go.

"It's my turn to speak up and prove I was worth the trade."

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