PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Nelson Figueroa's baseball career has taken him from Brooklyn to Phoenix, to Philadelphia and Houston and points in between, as well as the Dominican Republic, Mexico and as far afield as Taiwan. At times, he was a successful Major League pitcher, experiencing some of the game's most emotional highs. At others, he was an afterthought, unable to crack a roster.
That's why Figueroa believes he will thrive at SNY as the replacement for Bob Ojeda as the network's primary pregame and postgame studio analyst. Years ago, SNY executive producer Curt Gowdy Jr. watched Figueroa conduct an interview and came away so impressed that he reached out to him, asking about the pitcher's post-playing career plans. Those seeds grew into a job almost immediately upon Figueroa's retirement.
"I can relate to almost any situation -- both good and bad, the ups and the downs of big league life," Figueroa said. "I think I bring that kind of life experience to the job. I'm not somebody who's a Hall of Famer and never felt the pain of being sent down to the Minor Leagues when you thought everything was great. So I think I'm a very good fit -- especially for this team with the way that [it's] built."
During his first day working in Port St. Lucie, Figueroa spent time bantering with Dillon Gee and Jenrry Mejia, two Mets he knew from their brief overlapping tenures with the organization. That history should prove to be both an asset and a challenge for Figueroa. While he knows more about the players than a typical newcomer would, his relationships with them could cloud his critiques. Still, Figueroa said he is willing to judge as harshly as necessary.
"They've played in New York long enough to know that if they don't play the way they should, they're going to get criticized," Figueroa said. "I'm just another voice. I'm not here to kick anybody while they're down. But, at the same time, they know what their expectations are of themselves. It's about accountability."
That, Figueroa knows, goes both ways. Upon accepting the job as an analyst, Figueroa endured immediate criticism on Twitter from Jerry Seinfeld, an avid Mets fan and friend of Ojeda. Seinfeld later offered his public support, but Figueroa -- a Brooklyn native who will soon move back to New York City full time -- understands his role in the New York media landscape.
"It's going to be a different lifestyle change, but I'm excited to be back in New York and [about] having this opportunity," said Figueroa. "Growing up a Mets fan and being from Brooklyn, I'm riding the F train with a purpose now -- not just to go into the city and go [sightseeing]. I'm actually going to work every day."
Anthony DiComo is the Mets beat reporter for MLB.com. He has been covering the team since 2010.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.