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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Taijuan Walker is taking a back seat on his new team — to Mr. Met.

A day after the Mets finalized his $23 million, three-year contract, Walker said he was aced out of his preferred jersey number by the rotund mascot with the baseball-shaped head.

“I was 44 growing up, and I finally got it with the Mariners in 2016,” Walker said Tuesday.

“And then I ended up getting traded at the end of the year, and when I got traded to the Diamondbacks, Paul Goldschmidt was No. 44. So I was, OK, I'm never going to get that again."

So Walker thought: “What number can wear that not a lot of people in the league have it?"

He chose 99.

“And I think the only way I don’t wear 99 is if I get traded to the Yankees," he said. "So I was, OK, 99 is a safe bet and live with that.”

“And then, of course, last year I got traded to Toronto and (Hyun Jin) Ryu wears 99. So, I was like, OK, well, that didn't work out. So I'm wearing 00. Something different, again.”

“And, of course, this year, Mr. Met is 00. So I just went back to wearing 99.”

The only previous Mets No. 99 was Turk Wendell from 1996-2001, according to Baseball Reference.

___

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Minister, LGBT Advocate Plans Bid for NC Rep. Cawthorn Seat

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A western North Carolina county commissioner and LGBT activist announced on Wednesday that she would seek to unseat first-term GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn next year.

Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of Asheville has criticized Cawthorn for his words challenging the results of the November presidential election, including his speech in Washington on the day of the riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Beach-Ferrara, a Buncombe County commissioner since 2012, is a United Church of Christ minister and founder of the Campaign for Southern Equality. The group pressed for legalizing same-sex marriage in Southern states and nationwide in the 2010s.

Cawthorn, 25, was one of the youngest members ever elected to Congress when he won the 11th District seat in November by 12 percentage points over his Democratic opponent.

The state's congressional map will be redrawn in time for the 2022 elections. Primary elections are currently set for March 2022. There is no requirement that a candidate live in the U.S. House district for which the person is seeking the seat.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tags: Associated Press, elections, North Carolina

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