Carlos Mendoza already looking to shake up Mets’ lineup

Before Tuesday’s game was announced, the two youngest players on the Mets’ active roster were expected to move up to the fourth and fifth spots in the lineup, an upset for a club that lost its first four games of the season and has had a slow start for several veterans.

Francisco Alvarez had already managed to clean up and Brett Baty slipped behind the receiver in the middle of a strong start to the season.

Baty’s rise to prominence coincided with the fall of Jeff McNeil, a left-handed hitter who was relegated to No. 7 against Detroit right-hander Casey Mize.

Francisco Alvarez, who is off to a good start, was moved to the cleanup spot. John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

McNeil started his season 1-for-12 after a shortened spring training in which he was briefly shut down due to left biceps soreness — and during which he went 0-for-13 in the Grapefruit League.

The 2022 batting champ hit just .270 with little power last year and started this season with more trepidation.

Manager Carlos Mendoza said he hoped the roster change could “get him here.”

McNeil, 31, is accustomed to hitting at the top or middle of the lineup, and Mendoza said he has talked with McNeil about lineup possibilities this spring.

“He just doesn’t care where he is in the lineup,” Mendoza said before the rain out of the Mets’ game against the Tigers at Citi Field.

The Mets’ offense has been the biggest problem of many to start the year, with eight runs in four losses. The only bright spots were Starling Marte (who was batting sixth), Alvarez and Baty, a trio that had hit three of the club’s first four home runs.

Jeff McNeil, off to a rough start, is demoted to the Mets lineup.
Jeff McNeil, off to a rough start, is demoted to the Mets lineup. Corey Sipkin for the New York Post

Alvarez, 22, had already become a major part of the show. It’s possible that Baty, 24, who struggled to adjust to major league pitching as a freshman last season, could join Alvarez in the youth movement.

“Asking these young hitters, especially early in the season, to hit in the middle of the lineup might be a lot, but I like the at-bats,” Mendoza said. “I like how aggressive they are with pitches in the strike zone. They don’t chase as much. Baty had a very good match (Monday), hitting two balls hard. Alvarez continued to have good at-bats.

JD Martinez got “seven or eight” at-bats in Port St. Lucie on Monday and should get the same number on Tuesday, Mendoza said.

The earliest the Mets could recall the designated hitter (without a corresponding injury to another player) would be Sunday, when they finish a series at Cincinnati.

A series in Atlanta begins Monday.

Mendoza said the team would discuss in the coming days whether Martinez would be called up once eligible, whether he would get additional at-bats at the Mets facility or whether he would go to an affiliate.

Mendoza said the decision would largely be up to Martinez, who was not officially signed until March 23.

“It’s a pretty quick rise for him,” Mendoza said. “He knows his body better than anyone.”

Kodai Senga felt good after pitching for a second straight day Monday, for the first time since dealing with a right shoulder injury.

Senga always throws from a flat field and said he doesn’t know when he’ll move onto a mound.

New York Post

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