Yesterday at Tradition Field, MetsBlog’s Michael Baron sat down with Kirk Nieuwenhuis to talk about last year’s foot injury as well as his struggles towards the end of the season:
Michael Baron: How is the foot holding up after last season’s injury?
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: It’s good, it feels great. I’m 100 percent and happy to be healthy.
Michael Baron: How exactly did that transpire last year?
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: It was plantar fasciitis, and I was dealing with it for a good part of the season. It got quite a bit worse in July and August. One day, I was running to first base down in Buffalo and it just popped. I tore about half of the bands in the plantar fascia.
Michael Baron: Was it something injured at the major league level or did it happen after the demotion?
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: It was in Buffalo when I popped it but it had been bothering me a bit, it loosened up quite a bit when I was moving on the field.
Michael Baron: Last season at the major league level, you obviously got off to a great start. You earned your keep early, but then things turned on you. One of the things I noticed in particular was you were beginning to struggle with breaking pitches, especially on that breaking pitch down and in. As you adjust to the major league game and you try to catch up to it, what are some of the things you do to combat that breaking pitch?
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: I think simplifying things as a hitter is key and that’s something I wasn’t doing well with towards the end of last year. I was thinking too much about way too many things; your chance for success is really slim if that happens, so you really have to focus on simplifying things at the plate. I need to work on the mechanics in the cage, and while I was doing that, I was taking it too much into the game, and that was wrong. Mentally, I was thinking about way too many things and that was the bottom line.
Michael Baron: So you would say it was more of a mental issue than a physical issue last year?
Kirk Nieuwenhuis: I think it was both. Reflecting on it in the offseason, there were some serious mechanical issues, and I was really not doing those things well at all. So, I think it was definitely both. Any time you talk about struggling as a hitter there are usually a lot of mental issues that go with it. It is a game of failure but your success is going to hinge on how you bounce back from those failures.