NEW YORK -- Spring Training has officially arrived in Port St. Lucie, Fla., where the Mets opened camp this week amid significant expectations.
“We’re excited,” manager Luis Rojas said after pitchers and catchers reported to Clover Park. “Our first day was very successful, just watching the guys out there having fun, and we had great weather here for it. … It was great to be out there, too.”
Plenty of intrigue surrounds a revamped Mets team in 2021, as well as plenty of questions. Here are some of the most common entering spring:
Given the pandemic, how is Spring Training going to be different this year?
Like all teams, the Mets will go through the necessary protocols to keep players safe. That means masks and social distancing in the clubhouse, among other precautions both inside and outside the park. It also means fans will not be allowed on site for workouts until the Grapefruit League schedule begins. The Mets invited more players than usual to camp this year, hoping to give reps to prospects who haven’t appeared in competitive games since 2019.
When is the first Spring Training game?
To limit travel, the Mets recently reorganized their Grapefruit League schedule. Their entire slate now consists of games against the Marlins, Cardinals, Astros and Nationals in Port St. Lucie, Jupiter, Fla., and West Palm Beach, Fla.
The opener is set for March 1 at 1:05 p.m. ET against the Marlins in Jupiter. The home opener will take place the following day against the Astros on March 2 at 1:10 p.m. ET at Clover Park.
Will fans be allowed?
Once games begin, the Mets plan to allow fans into Clover Park at 20% capacity (approximately 1,400 fans per game). Tickets are available in pods ranging from 1-6 seats, with each pod at least six feet from any other seating pod.
The Mets plan to meet MLB, local health department and CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of all attendees. While on ballpark property, fans will be required to wear masks that cover their nose and mouth at all times, unless they are actively eating or drinking at their ticketed seat. Stadium ushers and staff will monitor the crowd and ask fans to comply with the safety protocols. Hand sanitizer stations and social distancing markers will also be available throughout Clover Park, and staff members will continually disinfect and sanitize restrooms and common areas.
Concession stands will be open with touchless payment options. The Mets are encouraging all fans to use credit or debit cards when paying for food.
How else can I watch, listen to or follow Spring Training games?
SNY and WCBS have yet to release their television and radio schedules, but the Mets’ media partners should carry most home games. All televised games will also be available on MLB.TV.
Fans can follow games that are not on TV or radio via Gameday on Mets.com and the MLB app.
When is Opening Day, and who is the opponent?
The Mets are scheduled to open the regular season on April 1 at 7:09 p.m. ET against the Nationals in Washington. Their home opener is set for April 8 at 1:10 p.m. ET against the Marlins.
Is the team planning to sell tickets to regular-season games?
As of now, the Mets have not revealed their regular-season ticket plans. The team intends to follow local laws and regulations, and it will open Citi Field to the public when it is both safe and legal to do so.
What are the key roster/position battles to watch?
The Mets have several. In the rotation, uncertainty exists behind Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Carlos Carrasco. The Mets could still acquire another starter to enter that mix. In either event, David Peterson will vie for innings with newcomers Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Jerad Eickhoff, Sean Reid-Foley and others.
At third base, J.D. Davis will try to hold off Jonathan Villar and Luis Guillorme. In left field, Dominic Smith will attempt to prove he’s as adept defensively as he is at the plate.
Finally, Edwin Díaz will try to show he deserves the full-time closer’s role, after losing it to Seth Lugo and others at various points in the past two seasons.
What’s the story with Noah Syndergaard, and when will he be back?
Syndergaard has been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery since last March. The Mets expect him to return around June, though his timeline will become more clear over the next couple of months. He’s not a consideration for the Opening Day roster.
What about Lugo?
Lugo’s timeline is murkier following mid-February surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. He won’t begin throwing until the end of March, and he will need a significant ramp-up period once he does. Mid-May seems like a reasonable hope for Lugo’s return, but that will remain difficult to predict until Lugo restarts his throwing program.
Who are some prospects to keep an eye on at camp?
None of the Mets’ most prominent prospects has a chance to make the team, but nearly all of them will be in camp -- even teenagers Francisco Alvarez, Ronny Mauricio and Pete Crow-Armstrong. Consider it a rare opportunity for fans to catch a glimpse of those three, as well as fellow blue-chippers Matthew Allan and Brett Baty.
What other storylines are worth following this spring?
One of the most significant will surround Francisco Lindor and Michael Conforto, two pending free agents who hope to negotiate extensions over the next month. Syndergaard will also be a name to watch, as will new acquisitions Carrasco, Villar, Kevin Pillar and Trevor May, among others.