Buck Showalter brings Mets to dugout Faith in return

WASHINGTON — With his return to the coaching bench after four years over, there was a lot to like about his Mets for Buck Showalter, a 5-1 winner at the Nationals.

There were Tylor Megill’s five innings of shutout, professional at-bats, a drag bunt for third by Robinson Cano, a choking bullpen… and there was the fire in his dugout after Pete Alonso on a 95-mile fastball from Mason Thompson suffered a busted lip an hour in the ninth, which luckily fell off his shoulder and chin guard. James McCann had been hit by a pitch twice before, once with loaded bases.

Showalter just had his 1,552. game in his career and had been reminded that sometimes you’re forced to either turn the other cheek or keep a long memory.

He was asked if there was anger in the dugout over two of his boys getting hit and he said: “It’s an emotional game played by people who care, yes. Have you ever had bad luck slapped in the mouth? It’s not particularly pleasant, so there’s certainly emotion. I won’t make any intentions…no one will be happy about it. Unfortunately it does happen, but our boys responded well to it.”

Sho’ time, finally.

“We’re not going to win them all,” he said, “but we’re going to try.

“Sometimes the baseball gods get you, but tonight they smiled at us.”

And Alonso was thankful he could smile without missing teeth… and without a concussion.

Buck Showalter on the field before the Mets defeated the Nationals.
Buck Showalter on the field before the Mets defeated the Nationals.

Nobody cares about the game more than Showalter, and he must be pleased to be back in the dugout with players who care.

“It’s like football, you wait for the first tackle,” Showalter told The Post before the game. “Your most confident time is when the first pitch is thrown. When you are in your element. But all the peripheral stuff, especially in today’s game, just all the noise you’re just trying to get in your element. That is the challenge.”

Imagine — a Mets team struggling to embrace the manager’s mantra, “Pressure is a privilege.”

“I like it a lot. I don’t know if it was the shortened spring or if it’s been so long since they were in such a good environment in terms of COVID, but we had to pull them out of the games, we had to pull them from the cages we had to pull them off the field, it was like ‘My goodness!’ “Showalter said. “The only thing we had to do was push them back. We didn’t have to push anyone. After a while, those who might need a push would look around at their peers and say, ‘I guess I have to push too’ and that’s what you’re looking for.”

Not even the slightest detail escapes this man, and suddenly it’s like he’s back in the Yankees dugout, April 7, 1992, Yankees 4, Red Sox 3.

“Remember last pitch, pop up, Steve Farr, I think it was a 3-2 ball? Jody Reed, thought things would go wrong. I just remember when you jumped up fast at old Yankee Stadium you banged your head on that padded thing. I sat back down and he caught it,” Showalter recalled.

Buck Showalter stands with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner (left) and bench coach Glenn Sherlock (right).
Buck Showalter stands with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner (left) and bench coach Glenn Sherlock (right).

He nibbled with the media before Mother Nature’s original opening day was pushed back further. Annoy? nope butterflies? nope

“Anticipation,” Showalter said. “I get butterflies for taking a test I haven’t studied for, know what I mean?”

This was no time for sentimentality, although it meant so much to him that his wife Angela was there, and his daughter Allie and two of their four grandchildren – Winston and William Nathaniel V, aged two.

“A lot of my family is here, that’s cool,” Showalter said. “I saw a video of her landing, but that’s about it. We have a lot of things going on right now that you’re trying to keep track of.

Showalter senses a team on a quiet mission…just the way he likes it.

“Everything is changing now,” he said. “Get a slightly different look in their eyes as we get closer to the start of the season. You can tell over the last two days there’s a certain sense of focus that’s been taken to another level.”

He addressed the team on Wednesday, but not for very long.

Buck Showalter hugs Francisco Lindor during the pre-game introduction.
Buck Showalter hugs Francisco Lindor during the pre-game introduction.

“Sometimes you have to know when to shut up and get out there,” Showalter said. “They talked so well in there…they said everything I would have said.”

Showalter has brought a composure to the clubhouse and some players believe he could be worth multiple wins along the way.

“I think a few more, I really don’t know, I’ve never been under a caliber [of manager] like Buck Showalter,” JD Davis told the Post. “His CV speaks for itself. A big thing, a difference, as we players have noticed, is guiding and directing the ship in the right direction. I think Buck gives us some reassurance that it’s baseball, there are 162 games, an at-bat is one in 600, tomorrow is a new day and let’s get out there and have fun.

Sho’ time, finally. Buck Showalter brings Mets to dugout Faith in return


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