The first Mets lineup in over four months also came with a handful of question marks.
Robinson Cano is hitting third for the Mets exhibition game against the Yankees on Saturday at Citi Field. The veteran second baseman hit from the No. 3 spot 58 times last season, and he turned in a .229/.273/.359 slashline with five home runs, 13 walks and 19 RBI there.
Mets fans last season were increasingly disappointed to see Cano hit third over the course of the year, even as he battled injuries and was clearly not the player Brodie Van Wagenen traded for, alongside Edwiz Diaz, from Seattle.
Skipper Luis Rojas indicated the No. 3 spot is where Cano feels most comfortable and it’s likely that the second baseman will continue hitting third — or somewhere nearby in the middle of the lineup — during the regular season, which starts on Friday at Citi Field against the Braves.
“With Cano hitting there, it’s one spot that he’s hit a lot over his career,” Rojas said. “He definitely features very well to hit third in the lineup. We don’t have the lineup set for Opening Day yet, but he’s a guy that features to be there in the middle of the lineup.”
Jeff McNeil and Wilson Ramos were not included in Saturday’s lineup, with Max Moroff taking third base and Tomas Nido behind the plate instead.
Ramos in particular was getting hot at camp. He hit back-to-back home runs on Thursday and Friday and Rojas indicated the Mets want to give their backup catchers (like Nido, Rene Rivera and Ali Sanchez) some reps in the team’s exhibition games against the crosstown rivals.
McNeil, who just needed a day to rest, is expected to be slotted into Sunday’s lineup when the Mets travel to the Bronx on Sunday.
“Mac has been having a great camp,” Rojas said. “He’s been playing every day.”
Jed Lowrie is still rehabbing from his left leg injury and will not be used against the Yankees this weekend. The veteran infielder was sidelined with left knee/calf pain throughout the 2019 season, which pushed his Mets debut into September. He appeared in nine games, all pinch-hit appearances, and went 0-for-7 with a walk.
The Mets, 10 months later, still need to see more progress with his base running speed before giving him the green light to appear in exhibition and regular-season games.
Lowrie has played in the Mets’ intrasquad games during camp and made contact for a number of hits from the plate. He has also appeared at third base in a few of those simulated games, with his enormous black brace tucked away underneath his uniform.
“He’s working really hard every day to perform to compete in the intrasquad games that we had ... But the base running, and also some movements on the defensive end, we want to see that progression,” Rojas said. “Then we can discuss his availability for those games.”
ADAMS ELECTS FREE AGENCY
Veteran first baseman Matt Adams exercised his release clause on Saturday and elected to become a free agent.
Adams signed with the Mets in January, but his playing opportunities were limited from the get-go, blocked by Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith at first base.
With the new DH rule in the NL, his reps would have come from that spot or pinch-hit appearances this season.
The Mets were surprised by Adams’ departure, as nothing had jumped out at Rojas about the reason for his exit. Notably, Adams was drilled on the wrist by an Edwin Diaz slider during Friday’s intrasquad game. But Rojas said Adams’ wrist checked out fine and there were no broken bones or contusions.
”I want to say it was a little bit of a surprise,” Rojas said. “Working with him, communicating with him, him getting back to camp, it was a little bit of a surprise. But us having the depth we have at first base, we have a lot of guys that can definitely come in and play first. We have a lot of coverage there. Matt was definitely a great presence to have in camp. We’re wishing (him) the best.”
Jacob deGrom will not pitch against the Yankees on Sunday, and will instead stay back at Citi Field and hurl 50-60 pitches in a simulated game against Mets hitters.
If that outing goes as planned, it should set deGrom up to pitch on Opening Day Friday.
The Mets ace will likely be limited to 85 pitches against the Braves, with his ramp up interrupted by the abrupt back tightness he flagged earlier this week, but it’s an encouraging sign for the right-hander and he vies for his third Cy Young award in as many years.