NEW YORK -- Since the final days of Spring Training, when Yankees officials told David Aardsma that he would not make the team despite pitching well enough to do so, the former closer has battled his share of frustration.
"You almost want to kick the door and just scream, 'I am ready, I'm healthy, give me a chance,'" Aardsma said by telephone on Monday after signing a Minor League deal with the Mets. "But there's hundreds of other guys out there wanting to do that, too. And so it's a matter of, how do you separate yourself? It's just going out there and doing it."
Since the Yankees granted Aardsma his unconditional release at the end of spring, he has been pitching for the Marlins' Triple-A New Orleans affiliate, posting a 2.57 ERA with 12 strikeouts and eight walks in 14 innings. But because he had not earned a promotion, he exercised the out clause in his contract last week.
Five days later, Aardsma officially became a member of the Mets. He will report to Triple-A Las Vegas, where a strong showing could earn him a quick promotion to the big leagues. The Mets entered Monday's game against the Reds ranked 29th in the Majors with a 4.77 bullpen ERA.
"You look at the roster and you see an opportunity, and you see an organization that gives opportunities," Aardsma said. "They told me that there's an opportunity here if I come in and pitch well."
Aardsma, 31, was one of the most accomplished closers in baseball from 2009-10, saving 69 games for the Mariners and recording a 2.90 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 121 innings. But hip surgery derailed his career the following winter, and he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow while rehabbing from that operation. He appeared in one game for the Yankees last summer but did not make the club this spring.
Reporting to Las Vegas and having regained most of his low- to mid-90s velocity, he could give the Mets a late-game dimension that only Bobby Parnell currently provides.
"That call is always up to the organization," Aardsma said. "But personally, I felt like I was ready coming out of Spring Training. I definitely pitched well enough to make the Yankees, and they even told me so. I was kind of in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I felt like I was ready then … and the ball is coming out great. I just need to prove myself a little bit more."