Grand day for Lindor with first Mets slam

Update on Carrasco; Smith, Syndergaard making progress

March 19th, 2021

If the Mets had any doubts about Francisco Lindor’s long-term fit on this team, he is shattering them with his recent Grapefruit League play.

Lindor clubbed a grand slam Friday in the Mets' 8-5 win over the Cardinals in Port St. Lucie, Fla., going deep for the second time in three games. Since beginning Spring Training in an 0-for-7 skid with his new team, Lindor has gone 9-for-21, with both home runs coming from the left side of the plate.

“Obviously, he’s a great player,” teammate Dominic Smith said. “To see that bat is fun. To see his glove, to see his smile every day is pretty fun. It’s a treat to see. So I can’t wait until the season starts and we put it all together.”

Lindor’s latest came off Cardinals reliever Thomas Parsons, who grooved a 92 mph fastball over the inner half of the plate at Clover Park. Lindor pulled it just fair, tapping his chest as he made his way around the bases.

Power has been an important part of Lindor’s game since 2017, when he broke out with 33 homers for Cleveland. The following season, the switch-hitter set a new career high with 38 home runs, before clubbing 32 more in '19. Lindor’s 105 homers as a shortstop since ’17 are tied with Colorado’s Trevor Story for the most in baseball.

“I don’t think it’s something that he’s looking to do,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “I just think it’s something that he’s grown into in his young career. That’s a result of him just being a little stronger, and the repetitions that he’s taken in his career being able to impact the ball like that.”

Earlier this week, Lindor confirmed that he and the Mets are in active extension talks. He also set a hard deadline for those, saying he won’t negotiate past the end of Spring Training.

From the trainer’s room
Rojas classified Carlos Carrasco’s hamstring strain as a Grade 1 tear, the mildest kind. Regardless, multiple people with knowledge of the situation have cautioned to expect a six- to eight-week recovery for Carrasco, who began that process on Friday. Reporting early to Clover Park, Carrasco “was moving better than” the previous day, according to Rojas.

“He’s very professional,” Rojas said. “He’s waiting for the plan of attack, everything that’s going to be put in place from the medical standpoint.”

Making progress
The news was better on Smith, who spent his day taking batting practice and receiving soft-tissue and laser treatments. Smith was a late scratch from a Grapefruit League game earlier this week due to a sore right wrist, but the Mets do not consider the injury serious. He could take live BP on Saturday with an eye toward returning to a Grapefruit League game as soon as Sunday.

“If this was the regular season, I would definitely be out there and pushing through this,” Smith said. “But obviously we know this is a long marathon, and we just want to be smart.”

The injury has cut into Smith’s live-game reps both at the plate and in left field, where he is trying to establish himself away from his natural position of first base. But Smith sees no reason for alarm, considering all the work he has done over the past few years in left.

“I’m confident I’ll be able to be fine out there in left field, and I just can’t wait to get out there and play,” Smith said.

Mets cetera
• Noah Syndergaard hit 96 mph during a bullpen session this week, according to Rojas, who added that Syndergaard is “not throwing 100 percent … basically still progressing” as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery. The Mets expect Syndergaard back in June.

• Jeff McNeil, whose tough spring has included an .074 average through 10 games, endured his roughest game yet on Friday when he was hit three times by pitches -- one on the right wrist, one on the right leg and another on the left foot. Fortunately for the Mets, McNeil emerged uninjured.

• Starter Taijuan Walker faced the minimum 12 batters during his four innings, allowing one hit and one walk but erasing both runners on double plays.

• The Mets will have a “camp day” on their team off-day Saturday, with some hitters taking indoor batting practice and several pitchers appearing in an intrasquad game. They’ll return to Grapefruit League action with a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Nationals on Sunday. Jacob deGrom will be on the mound for that one.

Roster cut
The Mets cut seven more players from big league camp on Friday: pitchers Yennsy Díaz and Daniel Zamora; catchers Patrick Mazeika and David Rodríguez; infielders Jake Hager and Wilfredo Tovar; and outfielder Johneshwy Fargas. Of the seven, only Zamora entered camp with a realistic chance to make the team. Zamora didn’t allow a run in 4 2/3 spring innings, but he did walk three batters.

Forty-four players remain in camp.

New role
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie has joined the Mets’ board of directors, the team announced. Christie joins owner Steve Cohen, chairman emeritus Fred Wilpon, vice chairman Andrew Cohen and another new member, Jeanne Melino, who will become a senior vice president of the Amazin' Mets Foundation.

In a statement, Christie said he was “honored” to join the team as “a Mets fan for the last 53 years.” Christie often attends games at Citi Field. His son, Andrew, has worked in the organization since 2018 and is currently a coordinator for player development initiatives.