A few big-name Mets have gotten off to quiet starts this season.
But because of the small sample size and the irregular schedule to begin the season, hitting coach Chili Davis isn’t sweating the lack of early results. Perhaps more than anything else he could dig into, Davis is confident that simply playing a consistent schedule was the key to getting his batters rolling.
“I’m not one for excuses, but we haven’t had a chance to be out on the field as much as we wanted,” Davis said in a phone interview Wednesday before the Mets continued their series against the Phillies at Citi Field. “I think the guys came out of spring training ready to play. Because of the COVID situation in Washington, we were there for six days without playing a game. We come home and get rained out [twice]. So they’re just looking for the consistent playing [time].
“I think once they get to where they’re in there consistently, they’ll get into their grooves and they’ll start being who they are.”
The Mets, who spent seven of their first 12 days of the regular season not playing a baseball game, began to show signs of breaking out in Tuesday’s doubleheader sweep of the Phillies. The clutch hits they had been starving for in the early going came from Jonathan Villar (a walk-off single and an RBI double) and Brandon Nimmo (two-run single).
While Nimmo had been on a tear through the first seven games of the season, Michael Conforto had been stuck on the other end of the spectrum. He entered Wednesday 3-for-23, including 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position. That found him dropped from third to sixth in the lineup, where he was Wednesday night — even after taking a 100 mph fastball to the right wrist Tuesday.
“I’m not gonna worry about Michael,” Davis said. “He’s kind of feeling it out right now. He was swinging the bat really well in spring training, and I think the layoff, he’s one of the guys that it probably affected the most. But he’s been working hard trying to get back to that feel he had in spring training. I’m not overly concerned about him because I know he’ll lock it in and get on his roll, and he’s going to help carry this ballclub.”
Conforto had some company in that regard. The Mets’ two biggest offseason acquisitions also were working their way through slow starts. Catcher James McCann was 4-for-21 entering Wednesday and Francisco Lindor was 4-for-23.
“Our initial conversation in spring training, when I met [McCann], he had such a good plan and his approach that he’s just gotta get time for him to execute that plan,” Davis said. “He’s had some success recently, and he knows what’s allowed him to have that success. Once he gets the reps, I think you’ll see James McCann be who he was and why we picked him up.”
Lindor, meanwhile, offered some encouraging signs in Tuesday’s doubleheader. In addition to flashing his strong defense, he ripped an opposite-field double and drew a pair of walks, a sign he wasn’t chasing hits while adapting to his new surroundings.
“He’s new to this league as well, so he’s getting familiar with the pitching,” Davis said. “He’s been in the American League for the last five years, and he knew all the guys over there. I don’t think it’s going to take him that long, he’s such a good hitter. His body language never changes. His mood never changes. He knows he’s a good hitter, so I don’t worry about him.”