Before this season, veteran pitcher John Lannan started 148 games in his professional baseball career.
But this year, the crafty lefty has been called upon by the New York Mets to pitch out of the bullpen – something he had never done in the big leagues.
Lannan spent the first six years of his career with the Washington Nationals before latching on with the Philadelphia Phillies last season. After signing a minor-league contract with the Mets this winter, he earned a spot in the team’s bullpen with a strong showing in Spring Training.
“It’s a little different,” said Lannan, 29, about now being a relief pitcher. “But I’m learning from each and every experience, good and bad.”
When he made his professional debut in 2005 after being drafted out of Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y., Lannan joined right-handed pitcher Mike Proly and 1991 Minnesota Twins World Series hero Gene Larkin as the only Major League ballplayers to have attended Chaminade H.S., Mineola, L.I.
The Long Island native and former parishioner at St. Mary’s parish, Long Beach, L.I., graduated Chaminade in 2002 and said that his Catholic school background – including playing in the competitive CHSAA league of Long Island – has helped him at each baseball stop along the way.
“The qualities they (Catholic schools) instill in their students from day one always stays with you throughout your life,” Lannan said. “It really molded me into the man I am today, the father I am today, the husband I am today and the ballplayer I am today.”
Lannan admits that he was more of a New York Yankees fan growing up. However, he did say he went to plenty of games at the old Shea Stadium. Either way, he’s glad to be back in his hometown, where his family will be regulars at Citi Field in Flushing.
Throughout his baseball career, Lannan has remained true to his Catholic faith. He said he hopes to speak soon to Ray McKenna, the founder and president of the organization “Catholic Athletes for Christ,” about bringing a weekly Mass back to Citi Field permanently.
The Mets’ bullpen is looking to find its groove as the first month of the season continues. Having the influence of the veteran Chaminade grad – as well as his strong faith – can only be a positive for the Amazin’s moving forward.