Notes: Lindor talks struggles; injury updates

May 30th, 2021

NEW YORK -- A month and a day ago, walked into the Mets’ Zoom room and discussed, in detail, the feeling of being booed. This was not a comfortable thing for Lindor, who had never experienced boos from his home crowd before coming to New York. But he took solace in the assumption that the vitriol would be temporary.

More than four weeks have since passed, and those boos for Lindor at Citi Field have grown only louder. Throughout the Mets’ current homestand, Lindor has not only been jeered nightly, but also more loudly than he was back in April.

“Getting booed sucks, man,” Lindor said. “It’s not fun. It’s a lonely feeling, especially when it’s your home crowd. But with that being said, they want results, and there’s not one person in this world that expects more results than myself. They want results, and so do I. I want the results more than they do.”

Lindor added that he is beginning to compartmentalize the booing. He understands that even those Mets fans upset at his lack of production still love him. Most will cheer as soon as he busts out of this slump.

He simply needs to bust out of it, which he perhaps began doing with a two-run homer in the Mets' 13-2 win over the Braves on Saturday night.

To get those types of results more consistently, Lindor has tried nearly everything. In recent weeks, he has focused on one-handed swing drills in the batting cage, in hopes of shaping his swing path closer to what it was from 2017-19 with the Indians -- his best offensive years as a big leaguer. He has tried to emulate his 2017 stance and swing in particular, but the difficult part has been rediscovering the feel of it. That indescribable element -- “feel” -- can often make a swing more than the sum of its mechanical parts.

“It’s baseball. It’s crazy. It’s a hard game, and it’s a very humbling game,” Lindor said. “That little baseball don’t care how much I got paid, don’t care how much numbers I’ve put up in the past, and definitely your opponents don’t care either. … For those people that think the game is easy, I would like them to go to the batting cage and try hitting it, and see how it goes.”

Lugo close

The Mets intend to activate reliever Seth Lugo, who underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow in February, the day he is eligible on Monday. Weather could still interfere with those plans, because the Mets want Lugo to get in some final work on his Minor League rehab assignment. But even if rain washes out Lugo’s final rehab appearance, the Mets appear intent on activating him when he is eligible.

From 2018-19, Lugo was the Mets’ best reliever, producing a 2.68 ERA with 207 strikeouts in 181 1/3 innings while frequently recording six or more outs in a game.

“He’ll have a role in our bullpen that I don’t think anybody’s had yet,” Rojas said, referring to Lugo’s multi-inning aptitude.

Alonso imminent?

Late Saturday afternoon, first baseman Pete Alonso jogged out to the bullpen for what appeared to be a stand-in session while Mets pitchers threw off a mound. Alonso, who has been nursing a sprained right hand, has been trying to convince Mets officials that he doesn’t need a rehab assignment. He appears to have won that battle.

“He does look great at this point,” Rojas said.

The Mets plan to put Alonso through a full battery of workout tests on Saturday and Sunday. If he comes through those without issue, the Mets could activate him from the injured list early next week.

Man of steel

One other injured Met keeping busy on Saturday afternoon was outfielder Kevin Pillar, who ran sprints, hit in an indoor cage, and tracked down fly balls -- all just 12 days after taking a 94-mph fastball off his face. Pillar has been bugging Rojas daily about coming off the IL; like Alonso, his return could happen within the next week.

“He feels good. He’s looked good,” Rojas said. “Don’t be surprised at seeing him in action in probably a week or even less than that.”

Pillar has been testing a mask that he might use on defense to protect his surgically repaired nose. He won’t wear that at the plate, however.

The Mets don’t believe Pillar will need a rehab assignment, meaning he could return to active duty at some point on their upcoming West Coast swing.

Rotation machinations

As expected, the Mets decided to keep Jacob deGrom on his regular rotation turn, scheduling him for Sunday night against the division-rival Braves. To accommodate deGrom, the Mets pushed David Peterson back to Monday in Arizona.

To clear space for Taijuan Walker to come off the IL and start Saturday’s game, the Mets also optioned reliever Yennsy Díaz to Triple-A Syracuse.

More moves expected

Additional roster moves should be forthcoming. A source said late Saturday night that outfielder Mason Williams, who hit a grand slam on Saturday and was batting .383 for Triple-A Syracuse, was on his way to join the Mets. The team will have to make 26- and 40-man roster moves in order to activate Williams, a six-year veteran of the Yankees, Reds and Orioles.