Notes: Blevins competing; Martínez injured

March 7th, 2021

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- When the Giants released him in the early stages of the pandemic last April, didn’t take much time to reflect on a career that seemed potentially complete -- “chasing around two kids in diapers,” he said, “you don’t really have time to do much else.” Blevins wasn’t retired, but he wasn’t quite looking for a job, either. So when the Mets came calling early in the offseason, he didn’t initially say yes.

Instead, Blevins began working out in earnest, trying to determine if his 37-year-old body could still handle the rigors of professional baseball. When his arm responded better than he had even hoped, Blevins agreed to come to camp on a Minor League deal with a spring invite.

Now, he’s competing against many others for what appears to be two open spots in New York’s bullpen.

“I still have that want,” Blevins said. “I want to win a World Series. Literally the only team I would have come back for is the Mets. My body still feels great. I still have analytics that say my stuff is still the same, so I’m still there, I still have that drive. And then the perfect storm of having a chance to come to New York, where my family loved it, where my first son was born, and they’re a World Series competitor. So it’s going to be tough to make this team, but I still feel like I have an opportunity to do that.”

A 13-year veteran for the A’s, Nationals, Mets and Braves, Blevins has been one of the league’s most successful lefty specialists. He struggled in his fourth and final year with the Mets in 2018, allowing a .786 OPS to left-handed batters, but Blevins recovered the following season before scuffling again last spring with the A’s. This month, Blevins has allowed one run in two innings, with three strikeouts and two walks.

If he is able to beat out Trevor Hildenberger, Arodys Vizcaíno, Drew Smith, Sam McWilliams and several others for a spot in the bullpen, Blevins will continue his baseball journey in a place where he has fond memories. If not, he’s unsure if he’ll report to the Mets’ alternate training site in Brooklyn or simply retire.

“Right now, my goal is to win a spot on this roster,” Blevins said. “When the time comes, we’ll deal with that as it is. There are a lot of variables that will shake themselves out.”

From the trainer’s room
Veteran José Martínez, who is competing for an Opening Day bench job, twisted his left knee Sunday in the fourth inning of the Mets’ 4-4 tie with the Marlins. The Mets plan to evaluate Martínez further on Monday, with an MRI likely.

Martínez was already on the Mets’ roster bubble, meaning any lost time would make it exceedingly difficult for him to break camp with the team.

“It was concerning at the moment,” manager Luis Rojas said. “You’re trying to help him out to get to the dugout, and he couldn’t. He couldn’t put some weight on it.”

Thor progressing
In his latest bullpen session on Sunday morning, Noah Syndergaard continued incorporating breaking balls into his repertoire -- a process than began last week. Several high-ranking Mets officials stopped by the 10-pack to watch Syndergaard throw, including Rojas and general manager Zack Scott.

The next step in Syndergaard’s rehab from Tommy John surgery will be live BP sessions against hitters, though the Mets have no imminent plans for that. Syndergaard cannot come off the 60-day injured list until May 30, and the Mets don’t expect him back until June. As such, they will not rush him in camp.

Long road back
Before Sunday’s main game against the Marlins, several Mets players participated in an intrasquad “B” game without fielders at the main Clover Park stadium. Among them was former Braves closer Arodys Vizcaíno, who signed a Minor League deal with the Mets in November.

Vizcaíno has not pitched since undergoing right shoulder surgery in April 2019, but his velocity -- which ran as hot as 101 mph in his prime -- has reached 96 mph this spring. The next step for the 30-year-old Vizcaíno, who has an outside chance to make the Mets’ bullpen, will be to pitch in Grapefruit League games.

“He feels strong,” Rojas said. “He wants to get out there. The breaking pitches, they’ve looked nasty in the bullpens.”

From 2015-18, Vizcaíno was one of the National League’s top relievers, saving 49 games with a 2.79 ERA and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

Mets cetera
• Owner Steve Cohen took in both Mets games this weekend in West Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie. Cohen has been commuting to Florida on the weekends, then flying back north for the workweek.

• Starting at third base on Sunday with Jonathan Villar at second, Jeff McNeil committed three errors. The Mets could use McNeil at third (and in left field) on occasion in the regular season, but his primary position will be second base. Villar made the most of his opportunity, hitting a three-run homer.

• New rotation addition Carlos Carrasco is tentatively scheduled to make his Mets spring debut on either Friday or Saturday. Carrasco, who reported late to camp due to additional medical screening, has been throwing bullpen sessions regularly at camp. Taijuan Walker will make his spring debut on Tuesday.