New York Mets catcher James McCann had never played a game at first base competitively in pro ball until this week when manager Luis Rojas was forced to trot him out to the position with his team decimated by injuries.
The Mets currently have 17 players on the injured list, forcing Rojas to shuffle his lineups with first baseman Pete Alonso out with a hand injury and outfielders Brandon Nimmo, Albert Almora, Michael Conforto, Kevin Pillar, and Johneshwy Fargas on the injured list as well. Dominic Smith — who would normally be Alonso’s replacement has been saddled with left-field duties.
It’s why McCann is playing a position he’s never played before and Tomas Nido is now the Mets’ everyday catcher, for the time being.
“Obviously in a perfect world, that’s not where I’m at. But here we are, and we have to find a way to do whatever we got to do to win,” McCann said of his current situation. “That’s going to be the key for the next however long: guys doing things that may not be the most comfortable thing for them.
“But doing whatever the team needs to find a way to scratch out runs, scratch out victories. Guys are going to do everything they can to the best of their abilities … we have to find ways to float until we start welcoming back our guys.”
It seems for every step forward, the Mets’ health is taking two steps back. After more of their depth in Fargas and starting pitcher Jordan Yamamoto landed on the IL, the Mets got their ace in Jacob deGrom back off the IL. But during his five-inning start in a victory over the Colorado Rockies, we learned that rehabbing starter Noah Syndergaard was pulled from his start in the minors with elbow discomfort.
“I have use the word challenging,” Rojas said. “Yes, it’s challenging, and these things keep happening. And it’s happened a lot because of the way we play. Guys play hard. They play up to one speed, but I think the group understands.
“So even though we reacted in the moment, saying, ‘Oh, not again,’ I think we just get back into it.”
That attitude seems to be stemming from general manager Zack Scott, who seemed almost unphased by the onslaught of injuries when speaking with the media earlier this week.
“These injuries really aren’t that different from what I experienced in my career,” he said. “Just the ways things happen. No matter what, always, you take the opportunity to talk about what we learn from it… It’s always good to talk through these things. Is there anything that could’ve been done differently? Why do we think maybe this happened? That’s our job to do the due diligence and have these conversations.”
This is where credit is owed to the Mets, considering teams of seasons past would have crumbled into dust by now. Yet, the Mets are still two games over .500 and held a one-game lead for the top spot of the NL East heading into Wednesday night’s action.
In the meantime, they’ll just try to keep the ship afloat while Scott scours the league for reinforcements. The general manager admitted that he has been working the phones trying to acquire more depth.
“I’m proud of the way they’ve played lately,” Scott said. “They’re scratching and clawing… it’s a hard way to play every day, all these tight days. The randomness of baseball isn’t going to help you… I’m aware that adding some additional talent is important. We’re going to try and do that. It’s not completely in our control, it takes two parties to match up.”