Buck Showalter makes sure the Mets are prepared for any situation

Jeff McNeil has already predicted that he will be on defense for the first time this season, ball-in-glove approaching two runners who are on the same base in an unforced game.

“The guy who got the base first has the right to the base and you tell the man who’s safe he’s out and you let him know he’s out so he stands off the base and you tag him,” the Mets second baseman said. Outfielder said on Monday. “If you’re persuasive enough and you say, ‘You’re out, you’re out,’ and he’s a foot away from the base even though he’s safe, tag them and they’re both out.

“I learned that in college, but if you don’t brush it up, some guys around here don’t know those rules. When you’re on offense both guys should stay on base, don’t move, the ref will tell you who’s off. It is knowing what to do in every situation.”

McNeil cited this particular game in video sessions conducted by manager Buck Showalter during spring training to reinforce the rules.

Mets manager Bucks Showalter, right, speaks with Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso, center, before a spring training game against the Nationals, Saturday, March 26, 2022, in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Mets manager Bucks Showalter (right) speaks with Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso before a spring training game.
Corey SIPkin/New York Post

Such preparation was seen a day earlier when JD Davis thwarted Arizona’s third base attraction play by attempting to steal second. Confused, pitcher Oliver Perez made a play on Davis, which by rule nullified any objection to Dominic Smith’s tag at third base. Davis got a stolen base for the game and Smith’s run couldn’t be reversed (although replays showed he hadn’t left early from the start).

“That was honestly the first time I’ve seen that in a game because we’ve talked about it before, but this time we actually did it,” said Pete Alonso. “It takes a lot of rock to actually try in a game because being able to talk about it is one thing, but being able to say, ‘Don’t do it [Davis] go, we will do it, that’s a lot.

Francisco Lindor noted that Mets players in the dugout tried to get each other’s attention when it became clear the Diamondbacks were going to appeal.

“We were all aware of that,” Lindor said. “We knew what was going to happen.”

The spring training videos, which tested players’ knowledge of the rules, were a first Alonso recalled during his tenure with the Mets.

“If you can trade an out for a run, that’s huge,” Alonso said. “There’s a lot of different opportunities, if you know the rules and how the rule book is written and how things play out on the pitch you can benefit from that and maybe get an extra run or here and there.

“If there’s anyone who knows the rule book, it has to be [Showalter]. Knowing the rules and certain parameters of the game is great for us to capitalize on.”

Beyond the rulebook, McNeil has come to appreciate Showalter’s curiosity during games. He cited an example from Sunday in which the manager loudly wondered why the Diamondbacks were changing their defensive alignment in infield.

“The shortstop and second baseman turned over with two shots and [Showalter] kind of looks at me and says, ‘why are you doing that?’ ‘ McNeil said. “Then Lindor hits the middle and the guy can’t make the game. I say, ‘I think it’s wrong.’ I don’t even know what it was, but it didn’t work. Buck notices the stuff and wants to know why they’re doing it and what we think of it. He likes to ask questions and if it helps the ball club in any way, he will try.” Buck Showalter makes sure the Mets are prepared for any situation


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