Ledee comes through as a fill-in

Ledee comes through as a fill-in

NEW YORK -- Ricky Ledee knows what it's like to be thrown into a lineup. He's been there before, and he knows how to prepare for it.

Ledee knows that in his position, preparation isn't a one-time deal, it's an all-the-time deal. He comes in every day ready to play, no matter what.

On Monday, after watching from the bench over the weekend at Yankee Stadium, Ledee was more than ready, and it showed. Going 2-for-3 at the plate, the left fielder smacked his first home run of the season -- his first since September 2006 -- to lead off the eighth inning, sending the ball over the right-field wall off a 2-0 pitch.

Ledee's performance on the night brought his total hits for the season to four -- already surpassing his total of three from last season.

"You learn to play like that, you learn to play off the bench," Ledee said after the Mets' 8-1 win over the Twins. "You learn not to get caught off guard. It could be an important at-bat, or it could be a blowout, or if for any different reason somebody has to come out."

Ledee's homer didn't make or break the Mets' lead, but it certainly didn't hurt. The shot was the first of four runs scored in the inning.

"You get there and it's not pressure, but we know the situation that we're in," Ledee said. "We haven't played like we are capable of playing, and I want to contribute and get it going for the team."

For a Mets team that has had trouble putting runs on the board as of late, Ledee might help get the bats going for in the order. Ledee said he was ready to play all weekend at Yankee Stadium, but knew that he had to wait until the timing was right.

"I wanted to play badly, but sometimes I'm going to sit there, and that's the way it is," Ledee said.

That timing came soon enough. Manager Willie Randolph gave Ledee the heads-up on Sunday that he could likely be playing the next day.

"I just had a feeling that he'd match up good against [Carlos Silva]," Randolph said. "He hadn't played that much, but I told him to keep his head up high and stay ready, and today he came through for us."

The outfielder hasn't been on the field much this season. Ledee was called up from Triple-A New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League just nine days ago when the Mets optioned David Newhan out to the New Orleans Zephyrs. Ledee signed on as a possible fix for the string of injuries the Mets have suffered in the outfield during the past few months.

And again, Ledee had to be ready right away. On June 9, the same day he was called up to the big leagues just months after signing a Minor League contract with the Mets on March 29, Ledee started in the team's game against Detroit. The time in the Minors only helped the nine-year veteran, who has played with seven different Major League teams in his career.

"Last year it was totally different," Ledee said. "When I came over last year, I wasn't even ready. That time in the Minor Leagues this year helped me come back ready."

Lauren Kobylarz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.