Eduardo Escobar seems to take his mission seriously, as his clubhouse extends beyond those found in major league parks.
After signing a two-year, $20 million contract with the Mets, Escobar volunteered to speak during the Mets' minor league camp on Sunday in a scene that manager Buck Showalter described as “some kind of special, borderline tear-jerker.”
It took Escobar a lot of hard work and grit to become a major league player and All-Star - a kid without much, including a father in the picture, emerged from Venezuela to become an All-Star, and he passed the work ethic he inherited from his mother on to, he hopes, the Mets' prospects.
The Mets are planning on using the versatile infielder mostly at third base. Growing up in La Pica, a rough neighborhood in Aragua, where he started working for his family at 7 years old, he said he did not have a "normal childhood."
“There were nights when I went to bed without eating,” Escobar told The Post through interpreter Alan Suriel on Monday.
From sweeping floors to cutting branches, he did any odd job to help raise money to buy groceries for his mother.
“Not the type of upbringing my kids have now," Escobar added.
Even though he began playing, he never stopped working.
Before he was recruited for organized ball, he played in the streets with neighborhood children. Having been scouted at the age of 14, he now has a $25,000 signing bonus with the White Sox, escaping poverty while not losing his hunger. He made the All-Star team in 2021 after debuting in the majors in 2011.
Last season, Escobar hit .253 with 28 home runs split between the Diamondbacks and Brewers, and wanted minor leaguers to know everything he has done to remain in the big leagues for a decade.
The message has landed.
"He said to learn from everyone. "Respect the wise people around you," said Mark Vientos, who said he picked Escobar's brain while he was in major league camp. These guys, Buck and [third-base coach Joey] Cora, teach me a lot.”
Vientos attributed Escobar's longevity to his daily workouts and commitment to improving, even at 33 years old.
In an intrasquad game during an off-day on the Grapefruit League schedule, Vientos said, "That's why he's still in the game, and that's why he's an All-Star." "It's great to look up to him, especially at third base."
The Mets didn't prod Escobar for the speech, Showalter said, but there are a number of reasons the Mets would welcome this.
In the wake of a season in which Sandy Alderson acknowledged the clubhouse dynamic had changed as the campaign wore on - and one in which several players displayed thumbs-down gestures to boo fans right back - the focus turned to bringing in players with established big league names.
Escobar was the Diamondbacks' 2019 "Heart and Hustle" award winner, an award given to the player who best exemplifies the spirit and values of the game. Having started a foundation to supply Venezuela with food, medical supplies, and baseball equipment, he was a finalist for the MLBPA's Marvin Miller award in 2017.
Among the Mets' offseason additions were seven-year vet Mark Canha, 10-year veteran Starling Marte, and Max Scherzer, who will be entering his 15th season.
“I was reviewing the service-time sheet that we have - there are a lot of people who have walked the walk and have a good sense of reality,” Showalter said. That's what leadership is all about, defining reality."
He hopes his reality and background will benefit the Mets' present and future.