Mets spring training begins with a lot to clear up

PORT ST. LUCIE – Clover Park opened its doors on Friday, more figuratively than literally.

For weeks, Mets minor league players have been training at the team’s spring training facility, but today was different. A lockout that lasted 99 days was complete, allowing members of the 40-man squad to finally penetrate the premises.

Max Scherzer, who lives in the West Palm Beach area, was among the first to arrive. Jordan Yamamoto, who spent all of last season on the injury list, was also an early signing. Before the weekend is over, the Mets will have most, if not all, of their teams in practice. The team is still working to finalize its Grapefruit League schedule, but the Mets are expected to play their opener next Saturday.

The storylines to watch as you head into Mets 2022 spring training are numerous:

Welcome to the Showalter world

Buck Showalter was a kid waiting for Christmas when he came to town on February 7, hoping the lockout would be over soon and he could at least start talking to his players. This luxury was only granted to the manager on Friday evening.

NY Mets manager Buck Showalter speaks to the media
Buck Showalter is finally getting to know his players after only meeting them via video.
Larry Marano © 2022

Now the trick will be to get acquainted with his new team in a hurry. Showalter spent months Discussion of these players with General Manager Billy Eppler and his staff and watched them on video. But it’s another thing to personally evaluate them and get to know the different personalities.

Showalter hasn’t managed a game since 2018, but reflexes will likely allow him to handle that part of the job without much concern. The challenge is to build a database on this group before the April 7 kickoff in Washington.

aces wild

Jacob deGrom last pitched for the Mets on July 7. Up to that point, he was easily the NL Cy Young Award winner, if not MVP, with a 1.08 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 92 innings.

Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom delivers the ball
The fate of the Mets in 2022 largely hinges on Jacob deGrom’s health.
Bill Kostron

But the barrage from 100-mile missiles might have done it took a toll from deGrom’s elbow. It was closed with inflammation after the Mets returned from the All-Star hiatus and tried to rehab but never came back. Team President Sandy Alderson revealed along the way that deGrom has a slight tear in his ulnar collateral ligament.

Scherzer’s addition gives the Mets another elite workhorse, but whether they get a full season from deGrom may ultimately decide the fate of the team. The cast behind deGrom and Scherzer includes Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco, David Peterson and Tylor Megill. At least one additional proven arm will likely be needed.

Less is more

JD Davis, in an interview with The Post this week, used the word “ambushed” when describing the amount of information hitters received in last season’s pregame meetings. New hitting coach Eric Chavez has already indicated that he wants players to approach the plate with a clear mind.

“We want their athletic ability to prevail,” Chavez said.

Francisco Lindor, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto all underperformed with the Mets last season. Overanalysis could have led to paralysis. Look to the Mets under Showalter to keep it simple, with Chavez serving as a filter to keep the message simple.

time to smile

Lindor last March signed a 10-year, $341 million contract extension that begins this season. The Mets got solid numbers from Lindor in the last six weeks of the season – following his return from the injured list – but his first half was a struggle. The Mets are expecting more than a .230/.322/.412 slash line overall from their star shortstop. Lindor heard many boos. They’ll probably move on when he starts slow again.

assembling the parts

The Mets aren’t done adding players yet, so it’s difficult to speculate at this point actually fighting for a job. Will Davis, Smith and McNeil still be with the Mets on Opening Day? Is there another big bat in the middle of the lineup? This puzzle is in progress. Mets spring training begins with a lot to clear up


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