After getting only one at-bat in the big leagues in 2012, 51s infielder Josh Satin didn’t expect to see much playing time for the Mets last season.
“A lot of things had to happen for me to get a chance to play,” he said before Las Vegas’ 4-3 loss to Reno on Saturday night before a crowd of 7,227 at Cashman Field.
However, when then New York first baseman Ike Davis was demoted to the 51s last June, Satin was called up and capitalized on his first extended opportunity in the majors. He batted .279 in 75 games — .317 against left-handers — and tied a Mets rookie record (with Steve Henderson, 1977) by reaching base in 29 consecutive games that he started.
“Last year was a big year for me,” said Satin, a career .303 hitter in the minors who has inspired his share of “Hail Satin” signs at New York’s Citi Field.
“I was finally able to relax and just play my game. For a while, I showed up there what I’ve been able to do in the minor leagues all these years,” the 29-year-old said. “It was definitely a life-changing experience. There was so much I learned last year that will help me in the future.”
Satin made his first big league Opening Day roster this season with New York, and his role as the Mets’ backup first baseman appeared to be solidified when Davis was traded to the Pirates on April 18.
However, in limited playing time, Satin never was able to regain the groove he had last season and was sent down to Las Vegas on May 12 after batting .107 (3-for-28) in 15 games.
“I was almost relieved a little bit because I needed some time to get right with my swing,” he said. “Last year, being here and getting (220) at-bats really helped me. When I went up there, I was ready to play.
“Obviously I wasn’t thrilled to get sent down here, but I knew it was the right thing for me.”
Satin, who has never batted below .286 in the minors, got off to a slow start for the 51s before recently rounding into form. He went 1-for-4 with a double Saturday and is hitting .317 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 19 games.
With two outs in the seventh inning Saturday, Satin flied out to the wall in deep center field, 432 feet away, with the tying and go-ahead runners on second and third.
“When I first got here, I was lost, but it’s getting better every single day,” Satin said. “Hopefully I can get locked in and get back (to the majors) and help the (Mets).”
Satin was sent down to make room for former 51s utilityman Eric Campbell and to get regular playing time.
“The theory is to send him here, get him some at-bats, get him hot again and probably get him back to the big leagues again because he definitely helped against left-handed pitching last year in the big leagues,” Las Vegas manager Wally Backman said. “He just needs at-bats. He’s hit everywhere he’s ever been.”
With hot-hitting Allan Dykstra entrenched at first base for the 51s, Satin has mostly played second base — his original position — and also has seen action at third.
A former All-American at the University of California (Berkeley) who played for Team Israel in the 2012 World Baseball Classic qualifying round, Satin said he’s having fun playing his old position.
“Hopefully it shows some versatility and maybe I can get in a few games there if I get back to the big leagues,” he said.
Backman said Satin has the potential to be a valuable bench player for the Mets.
“It’s hard to be a bench player when you’ve never been a bench player,” Backman said. “Last year, when Sat went to the big leagues, he got a lot more playing time.
“I think he can hit off the bench, but he’s a guy that needs to stay sharp enough and play enough to be able to be a bench player, and this year he didn’t get very many at-bats.”
While Satin proved last season that he can succeed in the majors, he still needs to show he has what it takes to stay there.
“You always hope that you can play there. Now I know I can do it,” he said. “I just have to find a way to do it at-bat after at-bat, year after year.”
■ NOTES — Las Vegas (34-22) blew an early 3-0 lead as Reno (33-23) scored four in the seventh, dealing the 51s their third straight loss and 11th in 14 games.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-266-6080. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.