BOSTON -- At this point, Mark Vientos is accustomed to the big leagues. What he’s unaccustomed to is actually playing regularly at that level.
A familiar situation awaited Vientos on Friday at Fenway Park, where he arrived to find his name off Buck Showalter’s lineup card. The circumstances are similar to his previous stint in the Majors, when Vientos started just 13 times in 25 games earlier this season. Red-hot when he arrived in New York, Vientos batted .178/.224/.244 amidst the disjointed playing time.
This time around, Vientos is a corner infielder called up to take the roster spot of Starling Marte, an outfielder. He’s blocked at first base by Pete Alonso, at third base by Brett Baty and at designated hitter by a number of teammates. As such, Showalter offered no assurances of giving the former top prospect much playing time at all, saying he’s “going to take it day to day with him.”
“It’s difficult, yeah, but I feel like it’s just the situation I’m in,” Vientos said. “Now, it’s, 'How am I going to deal with the situation?' That’s going to show who I am as a person. I’m confident that whatever is thrown at me, I’m ready for it.”
To combat staleness, Vientos said he intends to spend his idle hours “picking people’s brains,” whether it be teammates, coaches or other staffers. In particular, Vientos joked that he plans to follow friend, teammate and National League Rookie of the Year candidate Francisco Alvarez wherever he goes, “because I want to do exactly what [he’s] doing.”
Like Vientos, Alvarez struggled to find consistent playing time when the Mets recalled him earlier this season. Unlike Vientos, Alvarez managed to overcome that obstacle in short order, playing well enough to essentially force the Mets to use him as their regular catcher.
There are worse people to emulate, and when Vientos said he planned to follow Alvarez around to unlock his secrets, he wasn’t entirely kidding. Together again on Friday, rookies Alvarez, Vientos and Baty spent time pregame inside the Green Monster, signing their names alongside countless others.
“I posted on my Instagram and I was like, ‘Little Mark would be proud,’” Vientos said. “That’s something I’ve been dreaming about since I was little. … It’s just surreal to be here and actually be able to play baseball over here.”