Mets’ Mark Vientos staying in moment, handling himself ‘very well’ in return to majors

Mark Vientos Mets
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

QUEENS, N.Y. — Carlos Mendoza stuck to his word and had Mark Vientos back in the New York Mets’ lineup on Monday night, starting at third base, for their series opener against the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field. 

The 24-year-old had been back in the majors for just two days before playing the hero on Sunday afternoon with a walk-off, two-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Mets to a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

“For him to come through in that situation, especially with what he’s been through since he was sent down to the minor leagues,” Mendoza said. “[I told him to] put your head down, go to work, control the things you can control. Here he is getting an opportunity.”

Vientos, who has received sporadic playing time in the majors over the last two seasons, was initially positioned to be the Mets’ everyday designated hitter — at least that was the perception during spring training.  But president of baseball operations David Stearns signed veteran slugger JD Martinez to a one-year deal a week before the start of the 2024 season to push the prospect back down to the minors.

Rather than get discouraged, Vientos kept his nose to the grindstone while maintaining a mantra of “not thinking about the past or the future. I’m living in the present right now.”

“That’s something I’ve been preaching to myself and seeing from a lot of the guys in this clubhouse,” Vientos said. “The way they go about their business is very ‘What am I doing at this very moment?’ I’m going to enjoy it. That’s how I’m living… What kept me motivated was knowing the type of player I am.

“I’m not worried about the situation I was in. I know the type of player I am and I know what I can be at the major-league level. I’m just waiting for my opportunity. I got my opportunity, now I’m going to make the best of it.”

Mark Vientos Mets Cardinals
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

In 86 at-bats with Triple-A Syracuse, he was batting .302 with a .923 OPS, five home runs, and 22 RBI. His chance came on Saturday when Mets outfielder Starling Marte was put on the bereavement list to prompt a call-up to the majors.

“Mark has handled himself very well,” Stearns said on Monday. “He was very understandably disappointed when we sent him down at the end of camp but he went down to Triple-A, worked hard, has been a good teammate. He’s handled himself very well.”

Marte is expected to return to the team on Tuesday, meaning Stearns will have to make a roster cut. There has been no indication as of yet if Vientos will be that demotee, but there is no concern about it on his end.

“Every day to play in the majors is a great feeling,” he said. 

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