The Mets are ready to return from their COVID hiatus, but there are several changes to the club on the coaching staff and roster.
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The Mets had two positive COVID-19 tests, but have not had any since. Whereas the Marlins — who are at Citi Field this week — and Cardinals experienced coronavirus outbreaks, the Mets avoided one.
“It’s challenging times and we know that we adopted the protocols and we’ve been very strict, we call out with each other and we do different things to make sure we’re distancing and we’re able to navigate through something like this,” Rojas said Tuesday, hours before a doubleheader with Miami. “Our job is to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We’re able to contain it, but like I said, we’ve been very fortunate. It could’ve been different.
“But we feel really good that we’re following the protocols, we follow it by the book and right now we’re right back at it. We feel at the same time proud that we’ve done good, as far as to contain it. At the same time, we just gotta follow it. We just got to keep doing our thing.”
Indeed, the Mets are back. They’ve had to adjust to position themselves for nine games in six days.
From the coaching staff shake-up to the starting rotation plan, let’s go over the main topics surrounding the club as it returns to action.
Third base coach Gary DiSarcina and bench coach Hensley Meulens are not with the team right now for “undisclosed reasons,” Rojas said.
Tony DeFrancesco, the Mets’ first base coach, will be the third base coach on Tuesday. Kevin Boles, the minor league field coordinator, is joining the staff to be its first base coach.
“We said very early in camp that we’re not going to reveal why our players are not going to be onsite, and it’s the same thing with the coaches — we are not going to reveal why the coaches are not onsite,” Rojas said. “That’s what we’re going to keep it as, is undisclosed reasons as why the guys are not onsite.”
New York Mets’ Andres Gimenez (60) reacts after hitting an RBI triple off Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Marcus Walden during the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (Photo: John Minchillo, AP)
Catcher Tomás Nido and infielder Andrés Giménez were placed on the injured list for “undisclosed reasons,” the Mets said.
Catcher Pat Mazeika and outfielder Juan Lagares were added to the 40-man roster and will be active for the doubleheader. Catcher Ali Sanchez was activated as the 29th man, which teams are allowed to have for a doubleheader.
At this point, nothing is known about why Nido and Giménez are on the injured list.
The thought is that the Mets had a player and a staff member test positive for COVID-19. They have not had any positives since, which is why they were cleared to return Tuesday.
General manager Brodie Van Wagenen on Monday said the Mets also had four members of their organization deemed to be within close contact of the two infected members. The Mets, Van Wagenen said, hoped the close contacts would return Monday night.
We don’t know the identities of the two infected members. It is possible two of the four absent members are close contacts.
As for Nido and Giménez: This season, there is a COVID-19 injured list. There is no requirement for how long players must spend there, meaning they can be activated whenever (infected players must test positive twice before returning). Close contacts and players who exhibit symptoms can also be placed on this injured list.
Rojas did say, however, that the Mets have not had any more positive tests. It’s reasonable to assume that, if they did, Tuesday’s doubleheader would have been postponed.
Jul 30, 2020; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen looks on during a game against the Boston Red Sox at Citi Field. (Photo: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports)
As other teams played on Friday and Saturday, Mets players quarantined. They only left their residences to receive their daily coronavirus test at Citi Field.
At that time, the timeline for their return depended on those test results. The more positives, the longer the layoff.
Conforto joked with his teammates that “it was the All-Star break and we missed the cut for the All-Stars.”
Conforto took a bat back to his apartment. The Mets also offered other resources to keep guys moving, he said. But with no organized workouts at Citi Field through the weekend, the Mets were relatively inactive.
The right fielder said he’s more concerned about the amount of games this week than the coronavirus situation. With three doubleheaders — Tuesday, Friday and Sunday — the Mets will need to be smart in hopes of remaining injury-free.
Conforto said the Mets take measures inside the clubhouse seriously. They space out there and on the road.
“One thing that we probably will start doing is be a little bit more careful on the field,” he said. “It doesn’t seem that has caused a problem. Obviously we have a control on this outbreak. It didn’t spread from contact during games.”
Even if this situation might have been scary and concerning, the positive is that the Mets avoided an outbreak.
“We have to take a look at this and really stick to our rules and regulations, the things that we know will help us stay healthy as a group,” Conforto said. “It can serve as somewhat of a wake-up call for us to make sure that we’re sanitizing, we’re keeping our distance and we’re making sure we’re following all the rules.”
Rick Porcello, who is from Chester, is starting Game 1 against the Marlins Tuesday. Seth Lugo is starting the second game.
Rojas said the Mets decided on this order to keep guys in line with the normal order. Porcello would have pitched last Friday’s series opener against the Yankees if it were not postponed. Lugo was scheduled to pitch last Thursday before the big news dropped.
DeGrom last pitched on Aug. 19. If only looking at the days that have passed, you think he would have been lined up for Tuesday.
“Jake threw Wednesday and then he didn’t get on the mound,” Rojas said. “The next day was maybe a play catch day or something for him and we weren’t able to get on the field entirely. So to get him back on the mound yesterday (Monday), off the slope and throw, that was probably the best thing for him and then get that day to be his start day.
“But Jake wants to throw all the time. He told me today, he could’ve gone today. But it’s good that he gets that in-between-start routine that he does, his bullpen session, and then he’s able to go two days after.”
Of course, the Mets have a lot of games this week. It seems they’re keeping their starting pitching options open.
The biggest example: Rojas said left-hander Steven Matz, taken out of the rotation and placed in the bullpen, probably will not be used in Tuesday’s doubleheader. That would seem to mean the Mets are considering him for a start later this week.
Aug 1, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Michael Wacha (45) throws against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at Truist Park. (Photo: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
During Monday’s workout at Citi Field, Michael Wacha and David Peterson — both on the injured list with shoulder inflammation — threw bullpen sessions.
“Today, we’re just looking to see how they feel,” Rojas said. “We can definitely have a feel on what the next step is going to be. So let’s see. I’m going to have those conversations with them and see how they feel today. And go on a day-to-day for the plan.”
Justin Toscano is the Mets beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Mets analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and download our app.
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