ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 20: Rick Porcello #22 of the Boston Red Sox pitches to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game at Tropicana Field on September 20, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida.
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Rick Porcello is fulfilling a childhood dream by coming to the New York Mets and the New Jersey native can barely contain his excitement.

Pitching for the New York Mets “is a dream come true for me,” Rick Porcello said via SNY. “Growing up as a kid, this was something I always wanted to do, and now it’s become a reality.”

Porcello, 31, grew up in New Jersey as a Mets fan. In a separate interview with Steve Serby the New York PostPorcello said that Bruce Springsteen was his favorite musician, James Gandolfini was his favorite actor, and Al Leiter and John Franco were his favorite childhood pitchers.

He arrived at camp this week before the official reporting date and is excited just to be playing baseball again.

“I’ve been up north all offseason,” he told SNY. “So to be down here in sunny Florida, get out on a dirt mound and see all the guys, get into metal spikes, and all that stuff, feels great. I’m excited, and camp’s right around the corner.”

Excitement for spring training, of course, is an emotion that players and fans share. For the Mets, the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers is Feb. 10, with a first official workout two days later. Position players will report Feb. 14, adding another layer of fun to Valentine’s Day. The first full-team workout will be Feb. 16, and the first spring training games, a split-squad affair at home against the Marlins and away at the Cardinals, will be Feb. 22.

For Porcello, though, this isn’t just another spring training: it’s his first as a Met. It is, as he calls it, a dream come true. Baseball talk and analysis usually centers, for better or worse, on numbers, contracts, and player value. But watching a childhood Mets fan finally have his chance to pitch for the Mets is just as important to the allure of the game.

Plus, there’s always the chance that fulfilling his dream of pitching in Queens could help Porcello rediscover his Cy Young form. At least, maybe it’ll help him improve. Because if Porcello can shake off his 5.52 ERA last year and put together a quality season, he’ll have a chance to make another dream come true: helping carry the Mets to October baseball.

I have followed New York sports passionately for almost my entire life, since I went to Shea Stadium in 2004 and saw Jae Seo lose 8-1 to the Pirates. At journalism school, I once missed covering a Land Use Committee meeting to write about Jacob deGrom's last start of the year.