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Catching up with Curtis Granderson at the airport

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The Mets' right fielder chats about a variety of topics including his recovery from thumb surgery, offseason roster moves, team expectations for the upcoming season, and more.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

In partnership with Delta Airlines and the YMCA of Greater New York, Curtis Granderson greeted 150 children from P.S. 29 in Queens yesterday at JFK as they boarded an airplane bound for the "North Pole" to celebrate the fifth annual "Holiday in the Hangar" event. We were able to interview Granderson at the event and talk some Mets baseball. Here's what the Mets' right fielder had to say.

Andrew Cohen: How is your left thumb recovering after undergoing surgery earlier this offseason to repair a torn ligament?

Curtis Granderson: This morning I saw the team doctor and got out of the brace. We've already started offseason workouts and now I'm good to go, just need to get back some range of motion and gain the strength back because right now it's a little stiff.

AC: What do you make of the new infield additions in Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera?

CG: Both those guys I've had a chance to play against a lot and they've always done a lot of damage against the team's I've been a part of. So I'm excited to see them do that same type of thing for us instead of against us.

AC: Longtime Mets Jon Niese and Daniel Murphy are both likely to be playing somewhere else next season. What was it like having them as teammates?

CG: Anytime you get a chance to play with guys that you might not get another chance to play with, you understand the business side of the game will always be there. You build bonds with guys both on and off the field. Niese and Murphy are two guys who greatly embraced me coming over to the Mets organization. If they both happen to leave, like Niese is gone already, and Murphy happens to leave, it would obviously be disappointing. But you understand the business side and wish them the best.

AC: How do you expect the team to handle higher expectations after reaching the World Series and how does the club avoid complacency with last year's results?

CG: Expectations are going to be high, both from the outside and internally. You have to realize that 29 other ball-clubs are going to be looking to improve. If you look at the last couple years there's always been different teams cropping up and emerging. The main thing is you just gotta stay hungry and finish the task.

AC: You have hit at multiple different spots in the lineup throughout your career but excelled in the leadoff spot last season. How comfortable are you at the top of the order?

CG: You know a lot of people forget I've hit leadoff for more than half of my career. You're only in that spot really one time throughout the course of the game. I just try to put myself in a situation where I can do some damage at the top of the lineup, and if I can't I come back with a little report for the rest of the guys to give them some knowledge for when they step in the batters box.

AC: How impressed were you with Michael Conforto's impact as a rookie after his mid-season call-up?

CG: I think the biggest thing that stood out was his maturity level. He handled everything and was really poised. He didn't get too high or too low and I think that just speaks to his background. He's played on college championship teams, he's played for team USA; so he's been on the big stage. All those different thing definitely helped him not only in the regular season but in the postseason as well.

AC: Throughout your 12-year big league career, have you ever been on a team with such a young and promising starting rotation?

CG: It's very exciting. To have a number of guys that throw plus pitches, that throw power pitches at the young age they all happen to be at. So I'm very excited to see what they bring this upcoming year and many years to come.

AC: When you signed a four-year contract with the Mets two years ago, did you imagine everything coming together for this team to find success as soon as it did?

CG: I was looking forward to it coming together soon. I talked to the front office and a big reason why I signed here was they talked a lot about the young arms that were coming. It's one thing to hear it and it's another thing to see it. They were definitely able to back up their words. Guys like Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom just to name a few, they came up in a big way for us.

AC: The acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes was a huge reason for the offense's second half surge, but he remains unsigned. How confident are you in the rest of the lineup's level of production if Cespedes signs elsewhere?

CG: If we have a healthy lineup, we could be very good. We had a lot of pieces that were out of action for an extended period of time all season long. Obviously in baseball you'll have guys with injuries who will miss some time. But the more we can keep this lineup on this field, the better off we're going to be. And the guys that have to come up and replace them, the (Kirk) Nieuwenhuises, the (Brandon) Nimmos, the (Dilson) Herreras - whoever it happens to be - can all step up in big ways.

AC: One of the toughest injuries was to the Captain, David Wright. What was it like to see him return late last season despite dealing with a serious injury condition?

CG: It was really big because the injury he had ended up keeping him sidelined a lot longer than anybody imagined and it was much more of a difficult injury to come back from. Not only did he come back, he came back in a big way to help us get to the postseason. Hopefully he'll be healthy this upcoming season for all season long.

AC: Is there any aspect of your game you will focus on more than anything else this offseason in preparation for spring training?

CG: The biggest thing is just staying mentally hungry. I know my physical workouts and all those different things I have to do to get myself physically ready to go. But the most important part is staying excited and understand what we've done and that we still haven't done it all.