A prototypical middle-of-the-order hitter who has batted third or fourth in the majority of his big league games, Cespedes has appeared in the two hole only 39 times. But he has done so regularly this spring, due to manager Mickey Callaway's belief that a club's most productive hitters should receive as many at-bats as possible.
It appears almost certain that Cespedes will bat second against right-handers, assuming a lefty such as Brandon Nimmo or Asdrubal Cabrera leads off. The Mets may also elect to bat their pitchers eighth on a regular basis, knowing a legitimate hitter in the nine hole would provide more potential RBI chances for Cespedes up top.
Bad fundies Displeased with the Mets' spring fundamentals, Callaway called a team meeting Sunday to discuss a situation he said "hasn't been ideal."
"We have some work to do on our fundamentals," Callaway said. "We've got to throw the ball where we want to throw it. We've got to do things a little bit better than what we've been doing."
Although the new manager said he is still gaining a feel for his players and what they are capable of, he does not like what he's seen on defense and the basepaths.
"You have to throw the ball where it's supposed to go," Callaway said. "You have to run out balls. That's going to start happening. There are fundamentals that you have to do to play the game right. We can't throw to the wrong bag and throw balls away. We have to play the game the right way if we're going to win. We have to do it better than everybody else."
Injury updates Reliever Anthony Swarzak, who hasn't pitched since Feb. 27 due to a strained left calf, threw a simulated game Sunday. He should return to game action this week, with enough time left to ramp up for the regular season.
First baseman Dominic Smith remains "day to day" with the right quad strain that has sidelined him since Feb. 24. Callaway said Smith has no more physical hurdles to clear, hinting that he could return to the lineup Tuesday.
Camp battles Kevin Plawecki's bid for more playing time continued gaining traction on Sunday, when he collected two hits and drove in a run to increase his Grapefruit League average to .381. Callaway said recently that Plawecki could receive the lion's share of playing time at catcher against right-handed pitchers, which would likely result in more overall reps than Travis d'Arnaud.
Up next Following their first off-day of the spring on Monday, the Mets will play two games on Tuesday in split-squad action. Noah Syndergaard and Robert Gsellman will pitch against the Astros at First Data Field at 1:10 p.m. ET. Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo will take the hill vs. the Nationals in West Palm Beach at 7:05 p.m. on MLB.TV.