NEW YORK -- Despite a home white Mets jersey draped over his shoulders and a swath of television cameras in his face, the reality of big league life had still not registered for Jarred Kelenic. Perhaps that is for good reason: For even a prospect as highly touted as Kelenic,
NEW YORK -- Despite a home white Mets jersey draped over his shoulders and a swath of television cameras in his face, the reality of big league life had still not registered for Jarred Kelenic. Perhaps that is for good reason: For even a prospect as highly touted as Kelenic, whom New York drafted No. 6 overall earlier this month, the journey from Rookie ball to Flushing will take time.
"It hasn't really still sunk in yet, as I'm sitting here today," Kelenic said. "To hear your name called [on Draft night] was something special."
Once that climb is completed, the Mets hope, days like Wednesday -- when they introduced their highest selection in 14 years to the media at Citi Field -- will transform into a more regular occurrence for their first-round Draft pick. After conducting a news conference with director of amateur scouting Marc Tramuta and Chris Hervey, the club's area scout who signed him, Kelenic took on-field batting practice with the final group of Mets hitters prior to their series finale against the Pirates.
He then took in the game from a suite with his family, who accompanied him from their home in Waukesha, Wis. It was the second trip to New York for Kelenic, a left-handed-hitting outfielder who began his pro career earlier this week with the Gulf Coast Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Kelenic said he and his family enjoyed an "awesome" Italian dinner Tuesday night, and did some sightseeing on Wednesday before jetting to Flushing for the game. It was a diner in Times Square that caught Kelenic's attention, as much as any other part of the sudden spectacle of Major League life.
<p.> Around the horn</p.>
<p.>• Three days after he was struck by a pitch on his right pinkie finger, Brandon Nimmo was back in the Mets' lineup -- and in an interesting spot. After playing predominantly left field for much of the last two months, Nimmo was slotted in center field on Wednesday, pushing Michael Conforto to left. Nimmo began the year in center, but he had started there just twice since May 13 while Conforto received the bulk of the playing time there. The alignment will be reversed going forward, and the Mets may also be better off. </p.>
By Statcast™ metrics, Nimmo rates as both a faster runner (28.7 ft/sec average sprint speed compared to Conforto's 27.6 ft/sec), and more skilled defender than Conforto, a corner outfielder by trade. Nimmo slots in at plus-one Outs Above Average (slightly above average) while Conforto rates at minus-one OOA (slightly below).
• Noah Syndergaard cleared a significant hurdle in his recovery from a strained right index finger on Tuesday, throwing "all his pitches" in a full-strength bullpen session, according to manager Mickey Callaway. On the disabled list since May 26, Syndergaard's "next step is to start facing hitters," the manager said.
• Jason Vargas also threw a bullpen session at Citi Field on Wednesday, in the process testing the strength of his strained right calf. Callaway hinted that Vargas is unlikely to be activated to start Saturday, when he is eligible to come off the disabled list.
"We'll have to test him out in an actual game situation probably before we activate him," Callaway said.
• Calloway said the Mets will "try to arrange" for ailing left fielder Yoenis Cespedes to meet the team in Miami, when it opens a three-game set against the Marlins on Friday. Inactive since mid-May with a hip flexor strain, Cespedes has spent much of the month with the team's training staff in Port St. Lucie. He suffered a setback while on a rehab assignment at Double-A Binghamton on June 10.
• Amed Rosario returned to the Mets' starting lineup after three days, much of which the second-year shortstop spent in the batting cage. Hoping to help Rosario "shorten his swing," Callaway described the modified batting practice the Mets crafted for Rosario this week: "We got real close to him and threw the ball pretty hard." The objective, Callaway said, was to make it "difficult for him to get his barrel to the ball."
It was a particularly undisciplined run at the plate that sent Rosario to the bench initially. The 22-year-old had not taken a walk in his last 55 plate appearances, and he entered Wednesday hitting .203/.225/.290 in June. He has coupled his 3.1 percent walk-rate, which FanGraphs ranks third-lowest among all qualified position players in MLB, with an above-average 22-percent strikeout rate on the season.
Staub's legacy lives on
Each year since 1985, the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children Benefit Fund, in conjunction with its founder, Rusty Staub, had hosted the families of New York City police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty for a philanthropic picnic at the Mets' home stadium. The event has helped raised more than $140 million over the years.
On Wednesday, it was held for the first time without Staub, who died on March 29 at age 73. The Mets continued the annual memorial in Staub's name before their series finale against the Pirates at Citi Field. Mets players David Wright, Travis d'Arnaud and Jay Bruce and broadcaster Ron Darling greeted and signed autographs for attendees of the dinner, which was dedicated to Staub. Afterwards, four children of city workers killed in the line of duty threw out the ceremonial first pitches.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.