Mets’ pitching coach opens up about the challenges and benefits of extra family time

Andres Chavez
New York Mets
Dec 7, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Mets sign and logo during the MLB winter meetings at Gaylord Opryland Resort. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic currently affecting the United States and the world, Major League Baseball decided to suspend its operations indefinitely, including the rest of spring training and regular season games. While the players’ association and the league are currently discussing plans to eventually return and play this year, it isn’t a given. The New York Mets are, therefore, waiting.

The team, however, prefers to encourage players to keep themselves in shape at home, however they can, in case baseball returns soon. That’s why the Mets’ pitching coach Jeremy Hefner continually checks on his pitchers via Zoom.

That doesn’t mean that Hefner isn’t subject to the same challenges that players, and all Americans, are when it comes to staying home, educating his children and coexisting with his wife and family.

The Mets’ pitching coordinator, who was hired this season, said to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News that there’s a silver lining to the coronavirus shutdowns.

Hefner implied that his children are “baseball kids,” so they can have an advantage at adapting to new, abrupt realities.

“They were born into the not-sure-what’s-next life,” Hefner said of his four children. “Our kids are mostly independent and do a great job of rolling with what life hands us. They’ve taken this in stride.”

The Mets’ pitching boss is a regular, family guy

“We do our best to read with our kids as much as possible. Generally speaking we have well-mannered kids, so there hasn’t been anything too hard,” Hefner said. “The coolest part is we really get to see their imagination and what they think is important. Letting them be a part of the process is key, in our minds.”

Hefner thinks that social tools help, but kids are going to miss their friends and that’s natural. “I didn’t realize how much social investment they had in their friends. They really miss them, mostly because they are stuck with Mom and Dad all day,” Hefner said, laughing. “Zoom/FaceTime/Xbox certainly help, but nothing replaces the in-person contact.”

For the Mets’ pitching boss, it is a mix of feelings. He misses his job, yet he is enjoying his family time to the fullest.

“I really enjoy baseball. I love watching players make plays, learn new things, and being with them through the ups and downs of a season. But, this time with my family has been a positive one,” Hefner said. “Normally we would be separated at this time; they would be finishing up school and I would be with the team. I’m grateful for all these extra days I get with them.”