Home News Mets manager Carlos Mendoza shakes up lineup after early-season offensive struggles

Mets manager Carlos Mendoza shakes up lineup after early-season offensive struggles

With the Mets mired in an early-season slump, manager Carlos Mendoza took a swing at a new-look lineup Tuesday in search of offensive improvement.

Tuesday’s batting order had 24-year-old Brett Baty in the No. 5 spot and Jeff McNeil hitting seventh against Detroit right-hander Casey Mize at Citi Field.

The lefty-swinging McNeil, who won the 2022 National League batting title, hit cleanup in his first two starts against right-handed pitchers this season.

“I had those conversations with all of these guys in spring training, and McNeil was one of them,” Mendoza said Tuesday. “He just doesn’t care where he hits in the lineup. That’s one thing that we talk about: The versatility that he provides. Being a left-handed hitter. The bat-to-ball skills. The batting average. … I’ve had those conversations with him and we’re fine.”

Mendoza said the shakeup is the result of him “trying to create something” on offense after the Mets scored one run or fewer in three of their first four games. He likes the way Baty, whose three RBI entering Tuesday led the Mets, has been swinging the bat.

The 31-year-old McNeil, who primarily batted third last year under then-manager Buck Showalter, began the 2024 season with one hit in his first 12 at-bats, including a strikeout as a pinch-hitter in his lone plate appearance Monday.

McNeil is hardly the only player off to a slow start for the Mets, whose 0-4 record entering Tuesday was their worst to begin a season since 2005. Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor — the first two hitters in the Mets’ order — both began the day with .063 averages.

The lefty-hitting Baty, who won the third base job over Mark Vientos in spring training, did not bat higher than seventh in any of the Mets’ first four games. Baty, a 2019 first-round pick, got off to a .250 start this season after batting .212 over 353 at-bats last season.

“He looks a lot more relaxed,” Mendoza said Tuesday. “The way he’s impacting the baseball, how aggressive he is with his pitches, that’s a good sign. I think that’s the biggest difference from conversations that we had in the offseason, and especially in the early part of spring training. Then after the second week or so, he was more relaxed, like he belonged in the big leagues.”

Tuesday also marked the second day in a row Mendoza put power-hitting catcher Francisco Alvarez, 22, in the cleanup spot, directly behind slugger Pete Alonso. Mendoza said he ultimately hopes to settle on a batting order he can keep consistent through the top five or six spots.

The lineup will change again once designated hitter JD Martinez, a 2023 All-Star whom the Mets signed late last month after a prolonged free agency, is ready for MLB action. Martinez remains in Port St. Lucie, where he’s ramping up against Mets minor leaguers.

Martinez, who hit 33 home runs last season, becomes eligible Sunday for his Mets debut.

“This is a pretty quick ramp up for him,” Mendoza said. “It’s a different spring training. It’s not your typical spring training where you’re able to take a day off or so after two or three days of heavy activity. Since we signed him, he’s been on the go. He knows his body better than anybody. We will have these conversations, but if he needs more time, he’s going to take more time.”

Martinez, 36, should help a Mets lineup that, through Monday, had scored only eight runs, tying them with the White Sox for the fewest among MLB teams.

“The overall mood is fine, but obviously there’s a sense of urgency here,” Mendoza said. “It’s the big leagues. You can’t just sit here and say, ‘Oh, it’s early.’ You’re playing big-league teams every day, and you’re facing big-league players. It’s a sense of urgency of winning every day. We’ve got to continue to prepare. We’ve got to continue to make some adjustments.”


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