The rain on Thursday might not have delayed the Mets and Nationals’ four-game-series finale, but it did throw a wrench into a clear decision regarding the return of Robinson Cano.
The Mets scheduled the veteran second baseman to go through his last drills and tests on the field prior to Thursday’s matinee start at 1 p.m. But steady rain and rolling thunder kept the tarp on Citi Field, forcing the Mets to stay in their socially-distanced clubhouse.
Cue the creativity.
“A little tough to say. He has to go through today, everything he’s lined up to do,” Rojas said. “We have some adversity with the tarp on the field so he can’t get out there and do some things… we’ll do some things indoors to tell us where he is.”
Cano has been out since Aug. 5 after suffering a partially torn hamstring, which halted a blistering start to his 2020 season where he was batting .412 with a 1.020 OPS, one home run, and seven RBI in 11 games.
Per Rojas, he has recently been working at the Mets’ alternate site in Brooklyn where he was poised to get back to work Friday for the team’s series in Philadelphia against the Phillies.
And he’s been passing with flying colors.
“He’s done everything,” Rojas said. “He faced live pitchers yesterday at our alternate site. He had a couple knocks, I think. He was able to take some grounders and do some things. So he’s done everything from baserunning to light hitting.
“Today was the last day to do some things to make sure he can be activated today for tomorrow.”
That decision will be pushed back at least a little while longer, though he very well could be in the Mets’ lineup for the weekend series in Philadelphia.
Also up the middle, shortstop Amed Rosario is nearing his return from a stomach bug that’s plagued him over the last three days.
“He’s fine,” Rojas said. “We’re right now mostly trying to get him hydrated… It’s been a little tough for him with what he had.”
Regardless of his struggles, Rojas confirmed that Rosario is the team’s No. 1 shortstop, which has been his standing “since Day 1.”
“We’re comfortable with him, he can make the plays,” Rojas said. “We’ve had conversations about his approach at the plate, we want to get him there so he can do damage at the plate.”
Cano and Rosario’s return, however, puts the playing status of star rookie Andres Gimenez in jeopardy. The 21-year-old appeared in the Mets’ last 10 games prior to Thursday’s matinee where he’s continued to impress.
Through his first 18 games, he was slashing .283/.313/.391 with four stolen bases and a pair of triples while providing secure, flashy defense up the middle alongside temporary double-play partner, Luis Guillorme.
That’s far better than what Rosario has been able to provide this season and with such a short schedule, a short leash for the Mets’ “Day 1” shortstop could be anticipated. But that’s not Rojas’ plan yet.
“Andres has played so well at short and second base. We trust Rosie, too, as good as a player he is and the plays he can make,” Rojas said. “There’s no timeline to anything right now. Playing games and seeing how guys are performing is what will help us make those decisions.”
Instead, the Mets’ spark plug in Gimenez is facing a demotion in playing time, though the designated hitter will offer opportunities for him to play.
“He should rotate in the three positions right now. Andres at second, short, and third,” Rojas said. “He can help us and he’ll have his days off too. He’ll help that DH rotation with [Cano] and [third baseman JD Davis]. The DH is really important for us to keep guys in the lineup.”