From a perch behind the Cyclones’ dugout on July 12, it seemed like déjà vu all over again. There was Edgar Alfonzo, the manager of the inaugural 2001 Cyclones, near the home plate end of the dugout, and halfway up the dugout — leaning on the rail — was Angel Pagan, the centerfield star of that original team.
Pagan, now a New York Met, had just returned to Brooklyn on an injury rehab assignment after tearing his left rotator cuff on May 12 while making an outstanding grab of a foul ball just over the railing in left field.
While Pagan still looks as trim as he did when he was a Cyclone, much has changed in the intervening years.
He made the majors in 2006 as a Chicago Cub.
Back in the Mets’ organization this season, he had an excellent spring training, made the big club, and started the year on fire, playing often because of injuries to Mets’ outfielders, especially injuries to Moises Alou.
He cooled off a bit, but was still hitting .275. Then he suffered his shoulder injury, which for a long time was listed as a shoulder bruise by the Mets.
Pagan may have been gone from Brooklyn for seven years, but he didn’t feel much had changed.
“Things don’t seem any different here,” he said after his first game back. “The fans are still loud, and the stands are still full.”
Despite his injury, Pagan played all out in his first game back, sliding into first on a close play, and sliding head first into second on a steal.
“Just because I was injured doesn’t mean I’m going to take it easy on these guys,” he said. “I came here to compete and hopefully get back to Shea Stadium.”
In his three games with Brooklyn, playing both left and right field, Pagan was only 2-for-11, but three steals — all three of which added to his career Cyclone record, now 33.
“His swing is still a little long,” said Alfonzo. “He just needs more at-bats.”
Particularly right-handed at-bats.
“I need to face left-handers so I can bat right-handed,” said the switch-hitter, who faced only righties.
“Everyone wants to check out how I bat right-handed because when I hurt my shoulder I couldn’t bat righty,” said the 28-year-old. “My left-handed swing is great.”
With a veteran major leaguer in their midst, the Cyclones were eager to soak up advice.
“I just told them to have fun and play hard,” said Pagan. This is the learning part of their careers.
“The great thing about baseball is that it’s a new game every day.”
It’s unclear if Pagan will play more games for the Cyclones, but as much as has enjoyed being back in Brooklyn, Pagan is working hard to have his new day at Shea.