Lengthy Lockout Impacts Mets’ Spring Training


Every team in baseball got a late start to spring training due to the MLB lockout. Many players have been playing catchup on their standard offseason routines and the New York Mets are no different. Players were thrown right into the thick of things right as MLB and the MLBPA came to a labor agreement. One Met, in particular, was extremely involved in the reaching of a deal.

The Delay

Max Scherzer, 37, is a veteran of the Players’ Association and was instrumental in the agreement along with recently retired lefty Andrew Miller. Scherzer, who signed a three-year, $130 million contract this offseason, is expected to be a staff leader along with Jacob deGrom. Thus, he has had to learn the Mets’ catchers and coaching. This usually is done throughout a normal offseason, but due to the lockout, this was unable to occur. MLB banned all interaction between clubs, coaching, and players. New players were unable to learn their new teams at all.

Scherzer is not alone in this struggle. New York also traded for Chris Bassitt and signed relievers Alex Claudio, Chasen Shreve, Adam Ottavino, and Mike Montgomery. On the offensive side of the ball, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar all had to learn from new defensive and hitting coaches. This can be challenging for players but it seems that the Mets have done a good job at making the transition seamless.

Many young prospects who would have had extended time in the majors have also been affected. They have been restricted to spending minimal time in big league camp and the rest of the time in the minor league portion of Spring Training. Players like Francisco Alvarez, Matt Allan, Mark Vientos, and Brett Baty lost development time with the big league club, so it’s important that they use their limited time in MLB camp to get much-needed guidance from major league stars. 

Main Update

Many players have undergone procedures during the offseason and were barred from getting team rehab during the lockout. Others have not had time to show their new or improved skills. A couple of players will look to replicate previous success. With all this in mind, here is where the Mets stand in terms of readiness, injuries, and players over or under performing.

Taijuan Walker, Right-Handed Pitcher

Walker underwent a minor knee procedure in the winter. That kept him a bit behind. On Saturday, he took a step in the right direction, throwing two scoreless innings against the Nationals in his spring debut. The 2021 All-Star is set to pitch five innings in his next start, per manager Buck Showalter. He is slightly behind his peers and could initially be left out of the Opening Day rotation in order to preserve and maximize his health.

Joey Lucchesi, Left-Handed Pitcher

Lucchesi tore his UCL last summer and received Tommy John surgery. He is ticketed for a mid-summer return, but with the current depth, he may not have a rotation spot. Despite being a big acquisition last offseason, Lucchesi is a de-facto depth piece at the moment. The southpaw has been right on track with his rehab and looks to bounce back to his previous form.

Starling Marte, Outfielder

Marte was signed to be the Mets’ everyday centerfielder but has been banged up due to an acute oblique injury. Showalter mentioned that the star free agent signee will likely open the season in right field. Marte’s slow progression back to action saw him take reps in a minor league game. He played five innings and is progressing well.

Robinson Cano, Utilityman

Cano just served his second suspension for PEDs, this one being a full season. He is playing for a roster spot for the first time in his career now that his power is slightly diminished and his agility is worse due to age. He should make the team but will need to play consistently well in order to retain that roster spot.

Dom Smith, First Baseman/Outfielder

Smith has been on fire this Spring Training, driving in runs and hitting the ball really hard. The 26-year-old will likely be the main player DHing this season for New York with an occasional start at first or a corner outfield spot. Smith has spoken about big goals like batting .300 with 20 to 30 home runs. So far this spring, it looks like that goal is well within reach.

Francisco Alvarez, Catcher

The Mets’ top prospect and prized catcher, Alvarez has drawn rave reviews for all aspects of his game. The big-league pitchers have spoken about his development and advanced ability to call a game for his age. Everyone knew that he had light-tower power, and this was confirmed when he hit a 441-foot moonshot against the Marlins. He hit the ball over 108 mph and almost out of Clover Park. Showalter unsolicitedly mentioned how impressive Alvarez has been. 

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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