Mets Notes: Francisco Lindor calls new defensive shift rules ‘fun’
JUPITER — Francisco Lindor has an easy way to remember where he can and can’t position himself in the infield: He imagines a wall separating the dirt and the grass.
“I have a wall behind me — an invisible wall — because I can’t touch the grass,” Lindor said Wednesday after the Mets’ Grapefruit League game against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.
The pitch clock might be getting all of the attention as spring training games begin, but the effects of the new rules restricting shifts are being seen as well. Two infielders must be positioned on either side of the second base bag when the pitch is released and all four infielders must have both feet solidly in the infield dirt when the pitcher is on the rubber. When tested in the minor leagues, these rules increased batting averages and decreased strikeouts.
“I look to my left, I’m like, ‘OK, I guess I got a lot of ground to cover,’” Lindor said. “I look to my right, I’m like, ‘OK, got a lot of ground to cover.’ And I’m like, well, don’t touch the grass, don’t touch the grass!’ It’s been good.”
Lindor has not found the restrictions difficult to adjust to, and even said they’ve even been enjoyable to work with.
“It’s fun,” he said. “I know I can’t go past second base. I don’t have to look at the card. Before I was looking at the card, like, ‘Am I gonna be on the other side? Am I staying on this side?’ So now it’s like, I got my limits that I can’t go to. So I know lefty and I know he’s gonna pull the ball, I play behind second base a little bit more to the right.”
WHAT TO MAKE OF BATY
Brett Baty has shown all the signs of being a tantalizing prospect. He’s also shown signs that indicate that he’s still developing.
His four-game hitting streak came to an end on Wednesday against the Marlins as he went 0-for-2 after being inserted late in the game. He also made an error at third base, his second in five games, in the bottom of the fifth. But he made up for it with a strong defensive play two batters later, and started a tough double play to end the eighth inning.
Manager Buck Showalter was happy with how Baty was able to recover after a defensive miscue.
“I loved the play Baty made after the throwing error,” Showalter said. “Things aren’t going to be perfect, it’s how you come back from it. He’s made some nice plays and had some good at-bats. A lot of good things.”
Lindor hit a monster home run off of right-hander Dylan Floro in the third inning, his first of the Grapefruit League season.
Shortstop Ronny Mauricio hit his third home run of spring training. He’s 3-for-7 this spring with all three hits going out of the park, and what’s even more encouraging is that one of those home runs came on a breaking pitch.
Outfielder Tim Locastro hit a double for his first extra-base hit this spring and stole his third base.
The Mets used eight pitchers with five tossing scoreless frames. Showalter said he was particularly impressed with right-hander Grant Hartwig, who signed with the Mets as an undrafted free agent in 2021 after concluding his college career at Miami (Ohio).