Mets won’t waste time starting Francisco Lindor

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PORT ST. LUCIE — The Mets are wasting no time in getting their first look at Francisco Lindor in a game.

The star shortstop, who was the big prize of the Mets’ strong offseason, is expected to be among the starters who will hit the road Monday to play in the club’s Grapefruit League opener against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium.

Manager Luis Rojas also said he anticipated having Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo and potentially J.D. Davis, Kevin Pillar and Jonathan Villar in action for the first of the Mets’ 24 spring exhibitions.

“We talked this morning about our identity and some of the things we’re going to establish from early in spring training,” Rojas said Sunday. “Lindor, a guy like Pillar that might be there as well, and the rest of the guys that are coming back, all those guys just watching each other performing out there, I’m really excited. I can’t wait to see the first pitch of the game [Monday].”

Right-hander Harol Gonzalez will start the game on the mound with Sean Reid-Foley, Ryley Gilliam, Trevor Hildenberger, Stephen Tarpley and Thomas Szapucki also set to pitch in the seven-inning game.

More than the results of his hitters and pitchers, though, Rojas indicated that he would be most focused on the Mets’ base running and defense, which have been heavily emphasized as areas of needed improvement during the week of full-squad workouts to open camp.

Francisco Lindor
Francisco Lindor
Corey Sipkin

“I do want to see us being a better baserunning team, aggressive, going first to third, scoring on doubles from first, being aggressive, stealing, and being better at some areas that we haven’t been in the past,” Rojas said. “Also defensively, seeing guys get their experience at different positions. Those are the goals I look at. Once again, I wish we win every game in camp. That’s the mentality of the guys as well, I know. It’s part of that, but we know there are also the priorities in play.”

As part of a revamped spring training schedule to limit travel, the Mets will play the Marlins and Nationals six times each. But Rojas said the extra games against their NL East foes won’t make them adjust which arms are facing which teams, at least not yet.

“We’re really not thinking that [far] ahead right now,” Rojas said. “We want the guys to get their at-bats, we want the pitchers to get their innings and build up. We’re not thinking past that right now. We’re not overthinking it. If we get at some point that we think it’s going to be a competitive advantage, we can make a decision.”

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