PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- For most of Adrian Gonzalez's life, back issues were never a problem. A tweak in 2015 cost him a few games. An ache the following year cost him a few more. But it was not until last April, when Gonzalez's back locked into place as
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- For most of Adrian Gonzalez's life, back issues were never a problem. A tweak in 2015 cost him a few games. An ache the following year cost him a few more. But it was not until last April, when Gonzalez's back locked into place as he went to pick up his daughter, that he realized something was seriously wrong.
Eventually, Gonzalez learned that he had three bulging disks in his lower back -- a condition that cost him much of the 2017 season with the Dodgers. Gonzalez eschewed heavy weightlifting this winter in favor of hydrotherapy. Reporting to Mets camp for the first time on Friday morning, Gonzalez said that while back woes are certainly part of his life as an athlete, he now understands how to manage them.
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"Hopefully, it won't be an issue," said Gonzalez, whom the Mets signed this winter to be their starting first baseman, likely pushing Dominic Smith to the Minors. "I think I got a good grasp on how to treat it and how to take care of it. This whole offseason, it's been great, and I haven't had any issues or any setbacks, so I feel really good right now and I'm ready to go."
A return to health, Gonzalez hopes, will also allow him to improve upon the .242 average and .642 OPS he posted in 71 games last season.
"I hate the people that say, 'I'm looking forward to a healthy year," Gonzalez said. "You can never predict it. … But I think I've got a good grasp on it."
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Pat Roessler, whom the Mets promoted to hitting coach this winter to replace Kevin Long, isn't quite sure who will bat first for the Mets this season. Most likely, he said, the team's lineups will be fluid, resulting in leadoff reps for a number of players -- including Brandon Nimmo, Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera and Todd Frazier.
"We've got to get some people on base in front of those big boys," Roessler said. "Who that is may differ with who's hot at the time."
It began when Nimmo showed Mets manager Mickey Callaway a picture of a large sailfish he caught about two miles off the Florida coast. Impressed by Nimmo's haul, Callaway decided to organize a shark-fishing expedition for Nimmo and other Mets players, including front-office staffers. More than a dozen Mets went out Friday evening to enjoy a fishing expedition with a catered dinner on the beach.
"I showed him the sailfish and he was jealous, because he was supposed to come on that trip," Nimmo said of Callaway. "So he set this all up."
Consider the Mets fully on board with Juan Lagares' plan to increase the average launch angle of his batted balls, much as Jay Bruce and others did last season. Asked about Lagares, who worked this offseason with a private swing coach, Roessler laughed.
"We told him the other day, 'We don't mind ground balls as long as the first hop's 420 feet away,'" Roessler quipped.
Frazier also reported to Mets camp for the first time on Friday, entering a clubhouse full of unfamiliar faces. That's a bit of a problem for someone admittedly bad with names.
"The first time meeting everybody," Frazier said, "I told everybody, 'I probably won't remember your name, so you've just got to keep on rolling with it. I'll call you 'Big Dog' the whole time. Just be prepared for that.'"
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.