'It fills my heart': Struggling Lindor gets standing O

April 13th, 2024

NEW YORK -- Mets fans took Steve Cohen's advice: They gave slumping star a standing ovation in his first at-bat of the team's homestand on Friday night at Citi Field.

"I wasn't expecting that at all," Lindor said after the game. "But it definitely felt good. It feels good to be able to come home and feel the love of the fans, when I'm playing well or playing bad. It fills my heart, for sure.

"At the end of the day, I will always be Francisco Lindor -- on good or bad days. And I will always play as hard as I can and do whatever it takes to help this team win, day in and day out. Everybody that came out -- thank you for the love. It doesn't go unnoticed."

Lindor has been mired in one of the worst slumps of his career. He entered the series opener against the Royals, a 6-1 victory, batting .098, with just five hits in his first 51 at-bats of 2024.

But the Mets faithful are behind their shortstop. And the team owner is the No. 1 advocate for the support.

Last week, with the team on the road, one Mets fan account posted that Lindor should get a standing ovation when the Mets returned to Citi Field -- following what Phillies fans did in their support for Trea Turner last summer when he was struggling -- prompting a monster bounceback by Turner over the final two months of the season.

Cohen saw the post and jumped on board: "Love that idea," he wrote. "It worked in Philly with Turner. Positivity goes a long way."

On Friday, the crowd at Citi Field did exactly that in the Mets' first game back in Queens. Their cheers for Lindor as he stepped into the batter's box in the first inning put a big grin on Lindor's face, and he stepped back out for a moment to appreciate the ovation.

"I'm a better player when my heart is at a happy place," Lindor said. "And shortstop at Citi Field, it's my happy place."

Lindor was planning to take the first pitch. But hearing the crowd, he decided to take a rip instead. And he nearly belted a home run -- but hooked a long fly ball foul into the upper deck down the right-field line.

He came up with a key hit later in the game, though. Lindor was in the middle of a big inning for the Mets that broke the game open in the fifth, lining an opposite-field single and coming around to score on a Brett Baty double that gave New York a 5-1 lead.

"That's why I feel like this is a great place to play," Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. "You could feel it. You could see it in the dugout. … It's great. This is what makes this place a special place -- because of our fans. The players -- all of us -- will feed off that. And that is important. It's important to come home and feel that support from the fans."

Every time Lindor stepped up to bat, the fans had his back. Lindor knew something might be brewing -- he saw Cohen's post, and he knew what happened with the Phillies and Turner last season. But he didn't know how Mets fans would actually react at the game.

"I knew it was something that was out there, but when it happened when I walked up, and every at-bat, it felt really good," Lindor said. "This is home. I love playing here, I love playing in front of the fans here.

"At the end of the day, I try to put on a show day in and day out for them. There's days I don't put on a good show, but there's others that I do. I try to remember the days that I put on good shows for them."