Buck Showalter already had the daunting task ahead of him in trying to help the Mets take that next step toward legitimate and consistent playoff contention. But Major League Baseball’s lockout is only making things more difficult.
The veteran manager, set to make his debut with the Mets in 2022, has been unable to speak with his players and get accustomed to their tendencies. The league has prohibited management from speaking to — or even about — players.
“It’s frustrating not to speak to the players directly,” Showalter admitted on Monday. “But I know 29 other clubs won’t have a head start with that.”
As soon as the lockout is lifted by the owners, Showalter can finally put all of the Mets’ pieces together after spending the last five weeks piecing together a coaching staff alongside new general manager Billy Eppler.
The Mets overhauled almost their entire coaching staff — the lone survivor from the Luis Rojas regime being pitching coach, Jeremy Hefner. Eppler and Showalter brought on Wayne Kriby to coach first base, Joey Cora to coach third, Eric Chavez to serve as the hitting coach, and Glenn Sherlock to perform as the right-hand man to the manager as bench coach.
“Everybody’s very open to everything that may come our way,” Showalter said of his coaching staff. “You look at serving the players’ needs — which is the most important thing — and making sure we bring someone who keeps the avenues open to all things. I know the work that Billy and I and the organization put in with the candidates we talked to… it’s passed through a lot of filters and I’m very proud of it and look forward to working with them.”
Now comes the waiting game.
The players’ union was expected to counter the league’s initial proposal on Monday in hopes of coming to an agreement on a new CBA, which would end the lockout. A resolution is not expected, however, and the continuous stalemate has cast doubt upon the start of spring training, which is scheduled to begin in less than a month.
“We have dates if everything went well. I’m hoping for some good news today,” Showalter said. “You start preparing like it’s going to be as advertised. I’m not going to handicap and jinx us. I’ve been going in week intervals on how much time you’re going to have. It seems the amount of workout time before games start has shrunk every year.”
This winter, it’s all about preparing for “different timetables,” and the uncertainty that this lockout is bringing.
“We don’t have that safety net if a guy has a minor injury,” Showalter admitted. “Now if they have that, it puts Opening Day in jeopardy. I’m hoping for the best, I’m sure the players are too.
“We’re trying to plan for all scenarios. To be completely such is impossible but we’re going to try.”