Pete Alonso on batting practice, pregame drills helping to improve Mets’ offensive and defensive issues

Deesha Thosar, New York Daily News
·4 min read

CHICAGO — The weather in the Windy City of Chicago was most tolerable on Thursday than any of the other games at Wrigley Field. It was sunny, bright and even a little warm as the Mets took the field a couple of hours before first pitch for batting practice and a team workout. While some Mets players still donned ski caps, perhaps shell-shocked from the first two brutally frigid days on the North Side, others wore fewer layers while stretching, taking ground balls, and playing catch.

Those pregame workouts may seem mundane for other teams around the league at this point in April. But for the Mets, practice sessions have been few and far between in their fitful start to the season and they’ll take any extra work they can get. Due to two weather-related postponements in the past week alone — a snowstorm upon their entrance to Denver and a freeze warning in Chicago — the Mets on Wednesday took their first batting practice in a week.

Pete Alonso said getting onto the field, building up some heat and working out before games is “a positive start” to the Mets offense potentially turning around. The club entered Thursday with a .358 slugging percentage, good for fourth worst in MLB and second worst in the National League. Simultaneously, the Mets have one of the Top Five on-base percentages (.331) in the league, with Brandon Nimmo (.490 OBP) leading the offense in that category.

“As a whole right now, collectively as a group, we’re not even near our potential,” Alonso said. “The cold is whatever. It’s the rain, the snowouts, the game cancellations and postponements. That’s been tough. Once we get into a rhythm, it’s going to be awesome. Once we’re able to play collectively and be able to get back to our normal schedule, that’s when we’re really going to click and really find ourselves and find our true identity.”

Alonso pummeled his third home run of the season in Wednesday night’s ugly 16-4 loss to the Cubs and he’s just getting started. Though Statcast said the first baseman’s home run traveled 429 feet, Alonso said, “that’s what the computer says, and I think the computer is wrong.” No matter the distance, Alonso’s two-run shot that literally went out of Wrigley Field and left the park in a hurry was, at the time, enough to pull the Mets within striking distance of the Cubs. It was an encouraging sign for the slugger, who had a .755 OPS and .458 slugging percentage coming into Thursday.

It’s not just Mets bats that can benefit from early work. Prior to Wednesday, the team had gone a week without taking ground balls on the field to avoid the nasty weather beyond indoor facilities. The cold was particularly numbing in Chicago on Wednesday, still the Mets took the field pregame in part because Mets manager Luis Rojas thought his players needed the work. A few hours later, they turned in four defensive errors that led to five unearned runs in the 16-4 loss that will go down as one of the sloppiest games of the 2021 season.

“Not being able to take ground balls on the field the past week has really impacted us,” Alonso said. “Not to make an excuse, but it’s been tough… It’s nobody’s fault. Those are the conditions we’re dealt, and we’re doing the best we can.”

While it’s true that fans have yet to see what a stacked Mets lineup can do when key offensive players are clicking and the club is playing consistently, the Amazin’s have failed to meet the moment under the circumstances and challenges they’ve so far faced. The Mets have the luxury this year of looking forward to brighter and warmer days ahead — and getting those batting practices and pregame workouts in — because 88% of the schedule is still in front of them.

Through the adversity, the Mets are staying optimistic and keeping their heads up.

“I think that we’ve done a lot of really good things,” Alonso said. “We’ve had some big hits. We’ve been able to win some ballgames. But I think the sky is the limit for this club offensively. Once all of us kind of get rolling and hitting our stride, it’s going to be very, very dangerous.

“I know we’re going to be dangerous. It’s just a matter of getting to that point. I feel like we’re really close.”