Mets have looming decisions on playing time

March 25th, 2018

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Although the Grapefruit League season has wrapped up, some of Spring Training's most pressing issues will leak into the season, as the Mets figure out the best way to deploy the 25 players they take north.
In particular, the following three situations will stay relevant throughout April:
Center field
Now that it seems clear will beat his May 1 target return from shoulder surgery, the question becomes when exactly he can make it back. The Mets' first road trip, where the weather figures to be warmer in Washington and Miami, is as good a bet as any.
In the interim, appears to have wrested the lion's share of playing time away from on the strength of his .306/.371/.613 slash line in Grapefruit League play. Nimmo is also the Mets' obvious choice to lead off on Opening Day, and most days the first week of the regular season.
Entering camp, Lagares was a favorite to start in center for as long as Conforto was sidelined. But he struggled to adjust to his new swing, batting just .200 with one extra-base hit in 54 plate appearances.
"Probably I was thinking too much," Lagares said. "Things didn't go like I wanted them to go, but I feel 100 percent. I think it's time to let it happen naturally, not think too much and just try to be me out there."
First base
Don't be fooled by 's overall spring numbers. Gonzalez closed Grapefruit League play on a 4-for-14 hot streak, and he is the Mets' clear first-base starter heading into the season.

Still, manager Mickey Callaway says he can't envision Gonzalez playing more than four to five days per week, giving an opening to receive reps against right-handers. The Mets will likely face seven consecutive righty starters to open the season, and it's safe to assume Flores will start one or two of those games at first base. Once the Mets begin seeing lefties, Flores will start against them either at first or second base, depending on which of his teammates needs a rest.
"Wilmer deserves to play," Callaway said, "and not just against lefties."

One of the biggest unknowns regarding the Mets' Opening Day roster is the breakdown of catching duties. Callaway hinted earlier this spring that could start more often than not against right-handed pitchers, though should still receive roughly half the overall playing time. The Mets will scour opposing scouting reports to find the right mix.

"I think that I'm going to lean more towards what can our catchers do against the opposing pitcher," Callaway said. "I know what d'Arnaud can cover. I know what Plawecki can cover at the plate, and what their strengths are. And I think we're going to try to take advantage of that in the matchup against the pitcher that's pitching against them that night."