How homemade lasagna helps Baby Mets bond
This story was excerpted from Anthony DiComo’s Mets Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
When Saturday’s game against the Guardians was postponed due to rain, the Mets found themselves with an unexpected block of free time. Francisco Lindor went shopping and threw a pizza party for his family. Buck Showalter put in eight hours of office work at Citi Field. Francisco Alvarez? He texted Brett Baty and Mark Vientos and invited them over for lasagna.
The family recipe, which Alvarez says is more Venezuelan than Italian, includes noodles, ground beef, ham, cheese and a white sauce. When Baty received the invitation, he initially laughed.
“I was like, ‘I’m going to watch you cook it, because you’re going to go buy it from the store and then tell me you made it,’” Baty said. “But he made it. It was good!”
It seems the so-called Baby Mets are sharpening their life skills, knife skills and Major League chops all at once. The latter task can be difficult for anyone -- the most challenging jump in sports, Showalter likes to say -- so it’s been useful for the rookies to have familiar faces alongside them on the field, in the clubhouse, even in each other’s apartments.
Baty and Alvarez have been friends since 2019, when each debuted for the Mets’ now-defunct Kingsport affiliate in the Appalachian League. Although Baty was a 19-year-old Texan and Alvarez was a 17-year-old Venezuelan who spoke little English, the two bonded over their mutual love of baseball -- a story not unlike the one that brought David Wright and José Reyes together more than two decades ago.
In the ensuing years, Baty and Alvarez frequently linked up at various rungs of the Minor League ladder. Baty refers to Alvarez as his brother. Alvarez calls Baty “mi hermano.” Vientos, the first of the bunch to join the organization, became a regular part of the crew when he and Baty played at Double-A Binghamton together in 2021. Their bond solidified when all three appeared as teammates last year at Triple-A Syracuse. Often, they found their names stacked three in a row on the lineup card.
“They’re my family,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “We’ve been playing together for a long time. Just having them around, it brings me a lot of joy. I hope that I can be around them for the rest of my career.”
In the clubhouse, it’s not unusual to see the three riffing with each other, like when Alvarez gave Vientos grief for declining his lasagna invitation. Long Uber rides in the rain, Vientos shot back, just aren’t a relaxing way to spend a night.
As for the “Baby Mets” nickname that Lindor popularized during an interview last week, the moniker has gained traction for a reason. Baty has two home runs in his past six games, batting well enough to secure everyday reps and a regular five-hole assignment in Showalter’s lineup. Alvarez hit a memorable game-tying, three-run homer last Wednesday and a game-tying single two days later. He sports an OPS of .968 in May entering Tuesday. Vientos contributed a game-tying homer and a key RBI single in those comeback victories against the Rays and Guardians.
“We give each other confidence,” Vientos said. “We see each other doing it.”
Added Baty: “It’s just a different type of bond, because we’ve been together so long.”
Entering the season as the Mets’ first-, second- and eighth-ranked prospects, respectively, Alvarez, Baty and Vientos have begun to make good on their potential. None of them are old enough to rent a car without a surcharge, but they’re plenty old enough to change the fortunes of the Mets.