“Taking the season one game at a time” might be the biggest cliche in sports, but it’s actually appropriate for the Mets right now. Every game matters right now with the Mets trying to climb the standings before the trade deadline next Tuesday.
A veteran clubhouse doesn’t necessarily need to remind everyone to focus on the task ahead instead of letting their mind drift toward deadline news and rumors, but that isn’t always as easy it sounds.
“It’s hard to not wonder,” outfielder Brandon Nimmo said Wednesday before the Subway Series finale at Yankee Stadium. “That’s one of the challenges. You sit there and say, ‘OK, this scenario would be fun, this could be awesome.’ But none of that matters if I don’t focus on today and take care of today.”
With televisions in most MLB clubhouses set to MLB Network or ESPN, even the players who stay off social media will still hear the speculation. Some of it is simply conjecture, though some is valid Francisco Lindor is often seen turning the clubhouse TVs off on the road. At home, the Mets watch other sports or scouting videos. NBA summer league was a popular choice earlier this month.
Nimmo saw his name on a hotel room TV in 2016 when the Mets acquired Jay Bruce, but it wasn’t actually the center fielder involved in the trade — it ended up being Dilson Herrera who was going to Cincinnati with Max Wotell.
Knowing this, it’s easier for Nimmo to tune out some of the noise that comes with the trade deadline. After you’ve been in the league for a little while, you learn to deal with the uncertainty of late July and just focus on playing until you’re told to play for another team.
“It’s difficult, but it’s part of what we have to do,” Nimmo said. “We have to set it aside and focus on winning that day.”The Mets are still optimistic and have continued to say the right things publicly. Privately, some have acknowledged that they aren’t playing the kind of baseball that is needed to make up seven or more games in the standings. However, they have looked to their own division as examples of what can happen late in the season. The Atlanta Braves turned their season around and won the World Series in 2021. Last year, the Philadelphia Phillies got hot at the right time and won the NL pennant.
The Mets see a path forward, but ultimately, they know the final decision is out of their hands.
“In 2021, we were in first place at the trade deadline and the wheels fell off. I’ve seen all phases of it, but the one thing about baseball is that it’s really hard to predict what will happen. It’s really hard to look into the future and say, ‘This is what’s going to happen.’ They just do the best they can with the information given.”
Mark Vientos started at third base Wednesday night for only the third time this season. The rookie has mostly cracked the lineup at first base this season but the Mets wanted to give him a chance to show the improvements he made with Triple-A Syracuse.
“We all have strengths and weaknesses and Mark has shown the willingness to attack whatever weakness might be there,” said manager Buck Showalter. “I think we’ve found that as he’s gotten his footwork in order, his arm has shown better…. We’ve found that Mark has got a little more arm strength than we thought once he gets his feet moving.”
Vientos hit second for the second time in his career. The Mets slotted him in behind Nimmo to be able to use DH Tommy Pham as protection for Pete Alonso and in the fifth spot.
Starling Marte (migraines) is eligible to come off the injured list Thursday but the Mets may not activate him. His partner is close to giving birth to the couple’s child which may conflict with a return. However, Marte had a full workday at Yankee Stadium before the last game of the Subway Series.
Francisco Alvarez will not have further imaging on his left middle finger. The rookie catcher was hit on the hands with a pitch by Albert Abreu on Tuesday night and was immediately taken for x-rays, which were negative for any breaks or fractures. Alvarez said the finger stung on impact but it wore off quickly.