Notes: Rojas settles in; Smith progressing

February 12th, 2020

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Luis Rojas’ first official day of Spring Training began at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, when he rolled into the Mets’ Clover Park complex. Given the new manager’s expanded duties, he needed to find a new time for his personal workout, lest Noah Syndergaard take back his recent tweet describing Rojas as the “most jacked manager in the league.”

Four hours later, Rojas gathered pitchers, catchers, coaches and trainers together for a meeting in the Mets’ spacious new clubhouse.

“I told the guys early that I’ve been wearing this uniform since like 5:30 this morning,” Rojas said, laughing. “But it’s been an exciting day for me just getting here and then having the guys in one room, and being able to talk to them, communicate, and talk about what we’re going to do out there, and then going out there and executing it.”

Considering Rojas did not become Mets manager until late January, his transition has gone about as smoothly as possible. Most players already knew him from his days as a Minor League manager and Major League quality control coach. Rojas is making his presence felt to everyone else as well, with several minor tweaks in the Mets’ schedule. The changes include a later workout time, at 10:30 each morning, as well as more efficient drill rotations.

“Now, it’s building up on that, having that consistency,” he said. “The next four days, keep setting the tone so when the position players join the camp, they’re up to speed with where the pitchers and catchers are right now.”

Rojas intends to hold an even larger team meeting on Monday, before the Mets’ first full-squad workout.

“Some new faces in there, but obviously I feel very comfortable with the rest of the guys,” he said. "A lot of the guys that weren’t there before, we already made a good connection to start. It was a lot of fun for me this morning to address them.”

Making progress
Mets reliever , who underwent Tommy John surgery last March, began throwing off a mound approximately two weeks ago. The Mets don’t have a timetable for his return, and Smith is uncertain if he’ll have a chance to break camp on Opening Day. Regardless, the mound work was a significant step for him.

“He was very excited,” Rojas said. “I was happy to share some emotions that day.”

Smith, whom the Mets acquired for Lucas Duda in 2017, debuted the following season with 28 big league innings. He tore his elbow ligament in March 2019, then spent the next six months in Port St. Lucie. Following an offseason of work at home in Texas, Smith returned to Florida in January.

“St. Lucie’s a great place,” Smith said, laughing, “but I needed a break.”

Injury scare
The Mets received a small scare when René Rivera accidentally struck Luis Guillorme in the face on Wednesday, throwing him a ball when he wasn’t looking. Mets medical staffers tended to Guillorme, who suffered no ill effects. He returned to the field later for batting practice.