New York Mets manager Luis Rojas took a page out of ownerships’ book on Tuesday, opting not to divulge much about some of the pressing issues of his roster.
The first-year skipper, who is on the job for less than a month after taking over for the dismissed Carlos Beltran spoke to the media in Port St. Lucie as pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training.
Taking over an 86-win team that fell just three games short of a wild-card berth last season, Rojas is tasked in righting the ship after a turbulent offseason that featured the loss of Zack Wheeler, the firing of Beltran after two months on the job, and the failed transition of ownership to hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen.
“I know the guys pretty well and the guys know me back,” Rojas — who is entering his 16th year with the organization — said. “We have good relationships throughout the years. The talent that we have, the great team that we have, we want to see the preparation.”
“This is the time we set the tone.”
The Mets have a promising core to finally match up with their two-time defending Cy Young Award winner, Jacob deGrom.
Pete Alonso quickly became one of the premier sluggers in the game, Michael Conforto eclipsed the 30 home-run mark for the first time in his career, and Jeff McNeil and JD Davis had breakout first full seasons as anchors of the Mets’ lineup.
New York’s lineup would become even more potent if Yoenis Cespedes is ready to go come Opening Day. The 34-year-old has been limited to just 119 games over the past two seasons due to injuries, but he’s continuously made it known over the past few months that he is expecting to play close to a full season.
Rojas, however, echoed the sentiments of general manager Brodie Van Wagenen in remaining non-committal to the big bat.
“Cespedes is running and hitting, but there’s no timeline yet,” Rojas said.
The same demeanor held true for the current state of his starting rotation.
Behind deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz and the newly-acquired Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha are believed to be gunning for the final two spots of the staff. The loser would head to the bullpen to bolster New York’s set of relievers.
“We have six starters with a history of being good starters at the MLB level,” Rojas said. “Right now, we’re not defining the roles yet of 2, 3, 4, 5 or sixth starter. We’re going to sit back and enjoy watching these guys pitch in spring training.”
“I know Wacha and Matz had the experience of [working out of the bullpen],” he added. “But right now, they’re our starters. Right now, we have six starters.”