Mets 1B Adrian Gonzalez, who was born in San Diego and played five years with the Padres, had family in the stands all weekend. He sat the first two games of the series because of left-handed pitchers starting the games, so he was primed to have a much-needed, big day…and he delivered.
Gonzalez erupted Sunday, driving in five runs as the Mets defeated the Padres, 14-2, to win the three-game series at Petco Park.
He started April well, hitting .296 with a .406 OBP and eight RBI through the season’s first 10 games, during which he struck out in only 18 percent of his at-bats.
From that point, though he continued to make hard contact and strike out at the same rate, the results evaporated as he hit just .121, but with a .115 batting average on balls in play. It’s worth noting the Mets were 3-7 during that 10-game stretch, during which most of the offense went dark.
The team’s 14 runs and 19 hits were their most this season. And it’s the first time in team history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, that nine batters had a multi-hit game.
“I went into the game just wanting to get a feel for my timing and looking for good pitches to hit,” said Gonzalez, who had three hits, including an opposite-field home run. “You can’t control where the ball goes. It’s just taking a good at-bat.”
Gonzalez would have had a third extra-base hit had outfielder Franchy Cordero not made a terrific catch in the fifth inning by the wall in right-center.
The home run to left field is the moment that stands out, though, because of how he kept his head down, shoulder tucked, eyes on the ball and swing level. It was classic Gonzalez, who is the all-time home run leader at Petco Park.
Gonzalez had played 17 of the team’s last 22 games starting at first base, which is probably too much to ask of a 35-year-old veteran who has been battling a bad back for the last 18 months. Gonzalez looked to be full of life Sunday, though. It could be because of the nice, warm day in San Diego when surrounded by family. But, it probably has more to do with getting back-to-back days off. The team is off Monday, which means he will have had three of the last four days to chill before their next game.
Nevertheless, the NY Post reported this past weekend that the Mets intend to use Jay Bruce at first base at least one game this coming week. Bruce told reporters when he re-signed with the Mets this past winter that he didn’t expect to get time at first base unless it was an emergency situation.
“I think he’s aware – at some point in his career – that’s probably where he’s going to end up,” Callaway told reporters when asked about Bruce playing first base. “That’s the natural progression, I think, for a guy like him. I don’t know that’s going to be consistently this year, but I think that he’s aware.”
Moving Bruce to first, though, isn’t the Mets saying Gonzalez’ production isn’t cutting it. Rather, SNY’s Andy Martino reported the move is to create at-bats for Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares, and is in no way putting Gonzalez’ roster spot in jeopardy.
Bruce entered this season having played just 15 games at first base during his career, 11 of which occurred last season with the Mets and Indians.
“I’m a veteran and I have to do my thing,” Gonzalez told SNY after the game. “For me, it’s whoever gets us the best chance to win, whether it’s myself or Jay it doesn’t matter who it is. I’m here for the team. Whoever is at first base, like when (Wilmer) Flores is in there, I’ll be rooting for him. To me, it’s all about the team not one individual guy.”
Based on the above, I expect Gonzalez to still get the bulk of playing time at first base. However, when a left-handed starting pitcher is on the mound — such as Tuesday night (Sean Newcomb) or next Sunday (Kyle Freeland) — Bruce can start at first and Lagares can start in center, or Flores can start at first base and Bruce can remain in the outfield. Then, when facing a right-handed starting pitcher, if Gonzalez is needing rest, Callaway can put Bruce at first and Nimmo in the outfield.
The point is, Callaway has enough talent with the right attitudes to make this a successful rotation.
By the way, in case you’re wondering, Mets 1B prospect Dominic Smith is batting .282 during his last 10 games, though he has struck out in more than 30 percent of his at-bats. Overall, through 21 games in Triple-A to start this season, he’s batting .286 with a .409 OBP, seven extra-base hits, seven RBI and a .429 slugging percentage.
The Mets are off Monday, after which they return to Citi Field to being a three-game series Tuesday against the Braves at 7:10 pm. Noah Syndergaard (2-0, 2.86 ERA) will start in place of Steven Matz, who is having his start pushed back to Saturday due to back pain. Newcomb (1-1, 4.23) will start for the Braves.
By the way, Bobby Valentine, John Harper, Bob Heussler and I will be talking Mets on Monday, May 14, at the Fairfield Theatre Co. helping to raise money for The Bridgeport Field of Dreams Foundation..
The event will include a live panel discussion, audience Q&A, meet and greet, and raffle prizes, which includes Mets memorabilia, game tickets and more.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003.He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans’ Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!
Published at Mon, 30 Apr 2018 21:32:43 +0000