MILWAUKEE — It must have been hard to watch. Before Thursday night’s series opener against the Brewers, the Mets coaching staff was on the field as Yoenis Cespedes put on a power show during batting practice. The injured left fielder launched BP-home run after home run into the seats at Miller Park.
For a team that is struggling so to score runs, it had to be hard to watch their injured left fielder so easily launch homers knowing he’s not going to be in the lineup anytime soon.
In May, the Mets have scored the second-fewest runs in the big leagues and their record reflects the run shortage. A lineup built on power-hitters, the Mets were 27th in the majors with a .660 OPS heading into Thursday night’s game.
So, it was back to the drawing board for Mickey Callaway and the Mets’ coaching staff.
“The coaches and I had a meeting about just that today again. To try and figure out some ways, I think in the past here it’s kind of been wait around and the streaks will come,” the first-year Mets manager said Thursday afternoon. “We talked about that being a challenge to everybody in the clubhouse. We have the hitters we have. They have gone through these stretches before. All the sudden they go through a stretch where they get really hot. We talked about baseball being a streaky thing….But, just because it worked in the past — we have a really good month and bad month and really good month — I don’t think we can let that make us just be happy with what’s going on.
“So we’re talking every day about trying to implement new things,” Callaway continued. “Jay Bruce has a great track record of putting up numbers, but he can still improve. Adrian Gonzalez, same thing. We can all still improve in everything we do. That’s what we’re trying to do on a daily basis.”
Bruce can certainly improve on his start to this season.
Signed to three-year, $39 million deal this winter, Bruce is hitting .233 with three home runs and 14 RBI. He has struck out 33 times and walked 15 in 161 plate appearances. He has a career-low on-base percentage of .304 with an almost career-low OPS of .667.
But a streaky hitter throughout his career — except last season — Bruce isn’t going to suddenly change his stripes. And a team constructed on streaky power hitters isn’t going to become a lineup that manufactures runs.
“We’ve talked about that stuff. What do we need to do. We can’t do those type things, that’s just not who we have. So we’re going to be proactive in the way we take batting practice, the things we think about, give them something that they can think about as a group in their work, to kind of really focus on,” Callaway said. “Those are the things we can try and help with, the way they focus, try to narrow the zone. We gotta get back to walking some, so when we do hit a homer, it’s a two or three run homer.
“We were really good at the beginning of the season getting on base via the walk. The last month, we’ve been the worst in the big leagues at walking,” Callaway said. “I think we need to get back to that and just continue to focus on some of the thing that our hitting coaches are going to implement, then we got to start getting hot.”
The Mets are actually the second worst in the big leagues at drawing walks this month, behind the Tigers, but they need to find something to spark their lineup.
For now, at least, it’s not Cespedes, who remains on the disabled list with a right quad strain.
Wilmer Flores made his first start since Sunday Thursday night and it came against at right-handed pitcher. Callaway said he had not started in a few days because he was worn down after starting nine of the Mets last 14 games.
“I want him to play as often as possible. The thing about it it is he hasn’t played a ton of games in a row in a long time,” Callaway said. “When he plays three or four in a row, he feels it. Have to give him a day or two to kind of recovered and get him back in there. Got to build him up as he’s going along.”