NEW YORK - "Just enjoy the ride."
The New York Mets acquired outfielder Tyler Naquin from the Cincinnati Reds on July 29.
For the seven-year veteran, that meant an opportunity to go from a team who has sold off a large contingency of their top pieces and is at the beginning of a rebuild, to a team in prime position to clinch a playoff berth.
Naquin has made an immediate impact with his new club, hitting .346 (9-for-26) over nine games, including a two home run game against the rival Atlanta Braves on Thursday.
On Monday, Naquin faced the team that traded him for the first time, as the Mets opened up a three-game set at Citi Field with the Reds.
Prior to the game, Naquin greeted his former teammates during batting practice and caught up with them.
Later that night, Naquin drove in two key insurance runs in the eighth inning with a triple that just narrowly missed being a three-run shot.
The Texas native told Inside the Mets on Tuesday that all the emotions that came with facing his former team were positive.
"I have nothing but the utmost respect for that organization, that staff, the media there, they were all very, very good to me," Naquin said. They gave me a great opportunity for the past two seasons.
I’ve built some good relationships, so no hard feelings at all. I respect them, and I enjoyed playing with those guys."
Naquin gives the Mets a left-handed hitter that has historically mashed righties in his career. This was all part of the plan for general manager Billy Eppler and the Mets this trade deadline, as the additions of Darin Ruf and Daniel Vogelbach now give the team a few guys who they can slot in for more favorable matchups.
In Naquin's case, he has a career .871 OPS against right-handers (.282/.334/.479 triple slash).
The 31-year-old said the transition to New York has been very smooth, and everyone has been very welcoming and accomodating.
On the field? Naquin said he just has to do what he's always done.
“At the end of the day, I just have to bring myself. That’s it," Naquin told Inside the Mets. "They came after me for me to bring what I can bring, and I don’t have to do anything more than that. That’s the thing about it, just do what you do."
Manager Buck Showalter said on Monday night that the additions of Naquin, Ruf and Vogelbach have made the team a lot more versatile.
"It’s one thing to be able to come in and serve a purpose. It’s another thing to produce in the middle of what we’re in," Showalter said. "They’ve been as advertised, and it’s helped us be a more well-rounded team."
While Naquin has been primarily deployed against right-handed pitchers, he said he's good to go wherever the team needs him.
"Buck is going to pick his spots where he needs us, that’s the way this team is built," Naquin said. "We’ve got some really, really good players on this team, and this staff, so it’s just what puzzle piece fits for that moment. That’s how we’re going to ride it out."
Now in a playoff chase, Naquin said it's important to just just enjoy the ride.
So far, that's what he's done.