From one of the oldest rosters in baseball to the second youngest and a quick youth movement for the New York Mets. Before their 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks at Citi Field Wednesday night, two of the veterans Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera spoke to this new regime in the Mets clubhouse.
Even, we, among the media, who cover this team on a regular basis have to search and find where the young veterans have been relocated in that spacious Mets clubhouse. And that includes looking for Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto to name a few.
More will come as the September call-ups arrive when rosters expand next week. It’s getting crowded in there and that’s becoming a good thing as the Mets look to their future in a season that never was. It has to be that way now and manager Terry Collins, his future uncertain, will take it as he loves to see the development of young players.
Conforto is aware of the situation. He has been there and with two years under his belt is considered a part of the Mets and their youth movement.
“Right now they are here to get their feet wet,” said Conforto about Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario. Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini. “It’s a period of adjustment.” And that it certainly is, a time when Collins can give his youngsters the playing time and see what the roles will be next year.
Smith is learning with each at bat, so is Rosario. Forget about swinging at bad pitches or being anxious at the plate, or handling a play wrong on the field. This is part of the learning and adjustment and also trying to make the games respectable in helping the Mets get some wins in the remaining five in-a half weeks left to play.
Tuesday night it was Smith and Rosario with run-scoring hits in the ninth inning. Wednesday night the rookies drove in runs. Smith reached out and drove the ball to right-center on a 1-0 pitch in the sixth inning for his third career home run. In the same inning, Rosario had a clean single to right-center field and he added an RBI single.
Those at bats impressed the manager. If there is anything to root for in these remaining weeks it is seeing the continuing development of the youngsters that have invaded the home clubhouse at Citi Field.
“It’s definitely a good feeling,” Smith said. “I’ve been seeing this going on all year in Triple-A. I’m just glad we could come up here and show the world what we could do.” And what Smith and Rosario can do is continue this process and Mets management is willing to be patient.
They waited for Conforto to mature and direct from Double-A, and now the Mets outfielder talks and plays like a veteran with his approach, an all-star with a career high 27 home runs.
Four first round picks are on this roster with Nimmo, Cecchini, Smith and Matt Harvey, on the rehab assignments and due back soon. It’s a good mix when the surviving veterans of Reyes and Cabrera provide the leadership to a new clubhouse. And whether or not Reyes and Cabrera are back here next year, it’s good to have them around the clubhouse and reminding the youngsters to play and win.
That goes for Mets 23-year old rookie righthander Chris Flexen who tossed 6.0 innings for the first time. He got into jams and was able to work his way out of it.
Collins said that Flexen has a desire to be at this level. That showed multiple times when the D-Backs had opportunities to score and failed. Three times in the first five innings they had a runner on third base with less than one out and Flexen was able to use a good slider.
He struck out Paul Goldschmidt two times and got him to swing in the first inning. That strikeout, the first of five on the night, also stopped the D-Backs home run leader from leading his team to a big inning. He handled the middle of a lineup that can cause problems for a rookie.
This was one of the points Collins made about why Flexen has the desire and ability to pitch at the big league level.
“It was all poise to me and not getting too nerved up when you’re facing the middle of that lineup,” said Collins. “You gotta keep your wits about you because if you get out of control and start to make mistakes they’re gonna really hurt you. I just thought he handled it great.”
Said Flexen, “I think the more experience I get the more comfortable I am out there. I’m learning a lot more what a quality pitch is and how to get guys out here.” He, too, is getting a look and everyone knows, especially the Mets with the way this season has transpired, you never have enough pitching.
But the Mets have the youngsters and this is their time to audition, with exception of course for Rosario and Smith. And soon, David Wright the captain will be back in that clubhouse to help the youngsters in their development and that is all good news for the Mets.
That development continues Thursday afternoon against the D-backs who have been in this position as they contend for a NL wildcard. The Mets snapped their latest three-game losing streak and in that clubhouse the learning goes on.
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