With one-sixth of the 2020 MLB season already over, patience is something that can’t be practiced as easily as it can be during a normal, 162-game season.
For New York Mets manager Luis Rojas, there undoubtedly is pressure to start shaking things up given the start to their season — four losses in five games against Atlanta Braves and a four-game split with the Boston Red Sox.
Some of the names that the team was expected to lean on this season to make a run toward the postseason have yet to deliver, especially in the cases of Pete Alonso and Yoenis Cespedes.
Coming off a record-breaking rookie season with 53 home runs and 120 RBI, Alonso has yet to find his footing at the plate, batting .222 with a home run and three RBI entering Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Braves.
Alonso was 3-for-his-last-25 with nine strikeouts in his previous five games entering Sunday afternoon’s matinee against Atlanta (1:10 p.m. ET, SNY).
With Dominic Smith — a natural first baseman — waiting in the wings to get some consistent at-bats, Rojas wasn’t ready to give Alonso a day off just yet on Sunday.
“We’re definitely talking about how he’s looking, how he’s feeling,” Rojas said. “I was talking to him last night, he wants to be there every day. He feels good right now.”
Alonso has created the reputation over his last year-plus in Major League Baseball that he wants to be in the lineup every game — which is a bit of a throwback feel amongst the modern-day ballplayer. It was also clear last year that such a strategy was how he worked his way out of slumps.
“We’ll keep talking to him,” Rojas said. “He wants to be in there, he has the good stamina to do it.”
Rojas did, however, give Yoenis Cespedes Sunday off while he is mired in a four-game slump that has seen him go 2-for-15 with nine strikeouts. He’s one of MLB’s leaders in punchouts this season with 15 in eight games.
It’s not exactly the kind of return the Mets were anticipating after Cespedes returned from foot and leg injuries that held him out for half the 2017 season, a majority of 2018, and all of 2019.
That hiatus is what has Rojas a little more willing to give his slugger some time to rest and reset.
“It’s been so long for him to play as many games as he’s played,” Rojas said. “For him to get the timing, to be there competing… It’s been two years. We want to get him out there, we want to get him going. The more chances we can get him to go out there and get the at-bats… we’re going to give him those chances.”
Cespedes has two home runs this season, including the game-winning solo shot on Opening Day, but he’s 5-for-31 in 2020.
“We want to get him in there and get the at-bats needed in order to get hot,” Rojas added.
JD Davis will start at Cespedes’ DH spot on Sunday while Smith gets a start in left field.