Nickeas Ready to Prove Himself

Nickeas was unhappy with his offense last season

The New York Mets acquired the backstop in an August 2006 trade that sent Victor Diaz to the Texas Rangers. In his first full season in the organization, he struggled to find a rhythm at the plate, but was an intricate piece to the B-Mets' pitching staff. Yet, he knows what lies ahead and the work that needs to be done. Inside Pitch caught up with Mike Nickeas as he gears up for spring.

Mike Nickeas, a former fifth round pick of the Texas Rangers in the 2004 MLB Draft, arrived on the scene after the Mets swapped catchers in a August 30, 2006 waiver deal for Victor Diaz. He finished the last week of the 2006 season in Binghamton and being no stranger to Double-A [he played in 39 games in the Texas League in 2006], he returned to Binghamton where he played a key role in guiding Mako Oliveras' pitching staff.

Playing in a new system, he admitted that recapture much of his ability caused for a tumultuous season and forced him to reflect on the season with mixed feelings.

"Honestly, I think it was a big learning experience for me. [Last season] was a time that I was able to stay healthy and maintain, but I think from a mental aspect, I learned a lot about consistency and taking the same approach every day. I thought it was disappointing year offensively, but got better defensively. Nonetheless, there are still things to learn and get better at," he explained

Though he struggled with the bat, his work behind the plate provided a stabilizing effect for the Binghamton rotation which many times throughout the season suffered its own inconsistencies.

"I thought my receiving and catching was good and that was a big thing for me this year," said Nickeas. "I had the confidence to lead a pitching staff and I feel like I'm getting to an age where it's easy for me to talk to an older guy as well as younger guys."

"Before when I was 21 years old in Double-A that was something I was a little hesitant about. Throughout the year, I felt comfortable talking to all guys about what I think they need to do," he continued.

On the other side of the ball the season proved to be a constant battle. He hit just .217 for the entire season all the while attempting to evoke previous successes with the bat. Though the Eastern league is traditionally a pitching-favored league, Nickeas is confident he was not overmatched.

"I think over the last year I was trying to find myself as a hitter and find what I lost that made me a good hitter through college and early in my career. I'm trying to get back to that point and that comes from having a consistent approach and knowing my swing like I used to," he explained.

"I'm not taking anything away from the pitchers in the Eastern League, but it's not pitching that I haven't seen before or is it anything I'm not used to. It's about having a consistent approach and plan which I did not have. I need to be mentally confident in my approach and if I can do that then I'll have more success."

Nickeas kept going after the Eastern League season concluded as he went overseas to play for team Great Britain in the European Championships before returning to play in the Arizona Fall League. While he achieved a high level of comfort playing in Europe, when he got to Arizona he regressed back into the same problems that plagued him in Binghamton. Yet, that will not keep him down as he prepares for the new season.

"I played well [in Europe], but when I got to the Arizona Fall League I found myself in the same situation that I was in with Binghamton. I was unsure of my approach and my quality of play and though my time there did show me that I have a long way to go, but I'm not going to slow down in making myself better each time I go out there," he closed.

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