Notes: Canó returns; 11 players go to MCU

July 14th, 2020

NEW YORK -- For the first time in nearly a week, Robinson Canó emerged from the Mets’ clubhouse late Tuesday afternoon, stretched alongside his teammates, then took ground balls and batting practice at Citi Field.

Canó had missed six days of workouts for an undisclosed reason, but he is now back in camp in what the Mets hope will be enough time to ramp up for the regular season.

“We’ll go day by day,” manager Luis Rojas said. “He looks great.”

Mets officials did not give a reason for Canó’s absence, only to say repeatedly that they will not discuss the statuses of absent players. Canó is expected to speak to the media later this week.

By that time, the Mets should have a better idea of whether Canó will be ready to start at second base for Opening Day on July 24. He did not participate in the team’s intrasquad game on Tuesday evening, and he may not take part in future games if he is not physically ready.

“Obviously, seeing him today will dictate a lot of that,” Rojas said Tuesday. “He’s going to go through practices. We’re not thinking of having him play the intrasquad today right away, but he brought great shape to camp and he looks in great shape right now, just seeing him in the clubhouse. We’ll have to see him today, and then that progression will either go from a couple days or it can be a little longer. Our performance staff has a great eye from that, and they’ll have a feel from the feedback they get today.”

Even if Canó is not ready to go at second base, he could conceivably take reps for the Mets at designated hitter early this season. The 15-year veteran is looking for a bounce-back campaign after missing significant time to various leg and hand injuries last season, along with batting just .256 with a .736 OPS when healthy.

“He’s definitely a big part of this team, a big part of this clubhouse and a big part of what we want to do,” first baseman Dominic Smith said. “He’s helped so many of us young guys with the mental side of the game. Just to have him is definitely going to be a big uplift to us.”

Two other Mets players, relievers Brad Brach and Jared Hughes, remain absent from camp. Unlike Canó, those two have not taken part in any workouts on Citi Field’s main field to date. The Mets are not commenting on their statuses.

“We’re just not going to talk about the guys that aren’t in camp each day,” Rojas said.

No sleep till Brooklyn
A day after opening their MCU Park alternate training site in Brooklyn, the Mets sent 11 of the 51 players who had been working out at Citi Field there. Among them: right-handers Ryley Gilliam, Walker Lockett, Corey Oswalt, Tyler Bashlor and Drew Smith; lefties David Peterson, Kevin Smith and Daniel Zamora; catchers Ali Sanchez and Patrick Mazeika; and outfielder Johneshwy Fargas.

Unlike at Citi Field, where the Mets have been playing intrasquad games daily, those players will not take part in game action in Brooklyn. Instead they will report back to Citi Field when it is their day to play in a competitive environment, as Lockett did Tuesday in throwing live batting practice. As such, the move to Brooklyn does not mean those players will not make the Opening Day roster; Lockett, for example, stands a strong chance of making the team as he is out of Minor League options.

Another intriguing arm at Brooklyn is Peterson, who is battling Lockett for a chance to be the Mets’ next man up should they need a rotation replacement. The organization’s first-round Draft pick in 2018, Peterson has been topping out at 92-93 mph during Summer Camp -- a tick up from where he was last season.

The Mets have not discussed the possibility of using Peterson out of the bullpen during the shortened 60-game season.

“That’s why we’re stretching him out, the same thing we did in the first camp,” Rojas said. “We like his repertoire. … He’s getting over that hump that he knows he can get big-league hitters out.”

It’s all about timing
For the first time in Summer Camp, the Mets played an intrasquad night game on Tuesday, with Jacob deGrom on the mound. They will play additional night games later this week with a few matinees sprinkled in, as they try to prepare for the varied start times of regular-season games.

“We want to simulate anything that we can that we may be facing in the regular season, just to get the guys prepped,” Rojas said.

Added pitcher Rick Porcello: “It’s definitely beneficial to kind of get yourself and your body acclimated to that.”

Mets on TV
SNY announced its complete broadcast schedule for the 2020 season, with 56 of the Mets’ 60 games televised on the network. The four exceptions are nationally televised games on July 26 (ESPN), July 30 (FOX), Sept. 19 (FOX) and Sept. 26 (FOX). The Mets’ July 24 opener will be carried on both SNY and ESPN.

Award-winning broadcasters Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling plan to call all 56 of SNY’s games from Citi Field, rather than travel on the road with the team. The idea is that broadcasting from Citi Field will allow them to feel more engaged with the game than they would be from home or in studio. Field reporter Steve Gelbs will also be present on site for home games at Citi Field, but not road games.