PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Adrian Gonzalez and Todd Frazier may be at different points in their careers, but on the Mets, they are serving in a similar role as mentors to the young players.Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star with the Rangers, Padres, Red Sox, and Dodgers, is making the minimum
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Adrian Gonzalez and Todd Frazier may be at different points in their careers, but on the Mets, they are serving in a similar role as mentors to the young players.
Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star with the Rangers, Padres, Red Sox, and Dodgers, is making the minimum this season for the Mets after being released by Atlanta following an offseason trade from Los Angeles. Frazier, a two-time All-Star who spent 2017 with the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees, signed a two-year, $17 million contract with the Mets earlier this month.
Gonzalez will turn 36 in May and, after lingering injuries in 2017, may be in the final chapters of his career. Frazier turned 32 on Feb. 12 and will likely start at third base with captain David Wright's playing future still uncertain.
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As the Mets hope to rebound from their first 90-loss season since 2009, both veterans know that regardless of their current role, there's added expectations for them to help guide the organization's future stars.
"I don't mind [mentoring them] at all," Frazier said. "I'm not gonna tell them anything wrong. I'm not gonna push them to where they're not comfortable. It's about being comfortable all the time, and if they have questions, come to me. I'm not afraid to talk to them about it."
Even if Gonzalez isn't the same player who averaged 24 home runs and 99 RBIs per year from 2013-16 with the Dodgers, the Mets will benefit from his locker room presence. Gonzalez was signed not only as an inexpensive left-handed bat who could add some power, but also as a player that has experienced the highs and lows of life in the big leagues.
Gonzalez acknowledged his new responsibilities in the first week of camp.
"Just in general, you want to be able to help out everybody," Gonzalez said. "You want to be the best organization you can be, and in order to do that, you have to be able to mentor all the young kids, because the team's going to need them at some point for sure."
Gonzalez's approach to mentoring involves not comparing one player to another.
"You could be doing both people injustice [by comparing]," Gonzalez explained. "I'm not a big compare guy. … That's just not what I do."
Young first baseman Dominic Smith has caught both Gonzalez and Frazier's eye in Spring Training's first few days. Smith is looking to show the Mets he can rebound from a tough rookie season that saw him hit .198/.262/.395 with nine home runs and 26 RBIs in 167 at-bats. Smith had a hit and scored two runs on Saturday against the Cardinals, also reaching base on a hit-by-pitch and making a smooth scoop at first in the second inning.
Learning from Gonzalez and Frazier may help expedite Smith's development process, even if he begins the year at Triple-A.
"He's a guy that understands he has an opportunity and can't take it for granted," Frazier said of Smith. "Younger guy still, he'll understand that as you come up, you just gotta keep pushing forward and give it your best foot forward. I think he'll be all right."
Added Gonzalez: "I'm really happy for the fact that [Smith came here] in great shape, and everything on the field has been great."
Jake Elman is a contributor to MLB.com.