You’ll hear every cliche in the book when it comes to the preparations that come with spring training; whether it’s a pitcher working on his mechanics, a slugger working on his timing, or a manager just seeing all of the weapons in his clubhouse.
But Mets manager Luis Rojas didn’t underestimate the importance of seeing Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer on Sunday, who faced Jacob deGrom in an Opening Day preview this season — and his team responded by plating four runs against him in five innings during a 6-2 win.
Of course, the result of the game doesn’t really matter because it’s spring training — and these games don’t matter — but home runs from both Michael Conforto and Francisco Lindor bring confidence right from the get-go for two of the Mets’ biggest bats. Especially against one of the premier opposing pitchers in a National League East that is expected to be a rock fight between the Mets, Nationals, and Braves.
“A lot of the guys haven’t seen Max enough,” Rojas said. “To start those conversations in the dugout is very productive moving ahead… The earlier the better.”
Most notably, Lindor has only three career at-bats against Scherzer.
“That’s what happens in the big leagues,” Rojas said. “There’s a lot of talented individuals including [Scherzer and deGrom]. But then it becomes a mind game when you’re tracking sequences and stuff like that.”
Taking note of Scherzer and the Nationals is atop the list of Rojas’ priorities this spring, seeing as they and the Miami Marlins are the only NL East opponents that the Mets see during the exhibition season.
“We’ve been stressing that since the beginning of camp,” Rojas said. “Knowing that the competition will be really tough in our division. It’s not going to be easy. We still have days left in camp to depart spring training at our best to face that division.
“We’re aware of it, that’s why the guys are doing their best right now to be in the best position to battle the opposing pitching in that division.”
There’s just over a week until Opening Day, which for the Mets, is in Washington on April 1.