Without a game to prepare for, Wilmer Flores spent part of his Sunday morning playing cards in the clubhouse. He was under manager's orders to clear his mind. So he did just that as somebody else took his turn at shortstop for the Mets.
"I've been in situations like this before where a player takes a day off," Flores said that afternoon, his uniform unspoiled by the residue of a game. "You as a player don't want to take the day off. But sometimes they're good. You just come here and don't worry about anything. Just clear your mind. And the next day, you get ready to go."
Latest Mets stories
The Mets can only hope that things unfold that smoothly.
Tuesday should mark Flores' return to shortstop after a three-day hiatus mandated by Terry Collins, who had seen enough.
As the Mets spent the offseason scrounging around for ways to upgrade at shortstop, Flores, 23, emerged as an imperfect internal fallback option. His slow feet and lack of range already had prompted the club to move him off the position once before. But Flores found himself first in line.
The Mets' thinking was simple. He might not be Omar Vizquel, but it wouldn't matter as long as he made the routine plays and approached his potential at the plate.
Through 26 games, the experiment is off to a bumpy start, as shown by Flores' last game, four strikeouts against the Nationals on Friday night. He is hitting .240 with three homers and eight RBIs. He also committed the error -- his seventh -- that triggered the avalanche that eventually buried the Mets.
Believing the fledgling shortstop had become overwhelmed, Collins benched Flores on Saturday and Sunday. With a day off Monday, it made for a three-day in-season hiatus.
"We're just hoping a couple of days refreshes him and gets him back on track," Collins said.
The Mets knew that playing Flores would come with compromises, stemming primarily from his lack of range. But even routine plays have become a challenge, which has surprised team officials, who had banked on more consistency.
According to Inside Edge data on FanGraphs.com, Flores was tied for second to last among 29 qualifying shortstops in making the routine play. Five of his errors are from throwing, which hadn't been an issue in the past. "It was a glaring issue in spring training," a scout said. "Plenty of arm strength, but he is not accurate."
The Mets have no easy solutions, at least not in house. Ruben Tejada has earned and squandered several chances to win the job. Though Matt Reynolds has opened eyes at Triple-A Las Vegas -- some scouts believe he could be an upgrade defensively over Flores -- he's not considered a natural fit at the position.
The Mets appear ready to stick with Flores, who is not in immediate danger of losing his spot. The internal expectation remains that he will get four to six weeks to pick up his production and demonstrate that he can cut down on the errors.
One scout said he isn't "overly concerned'' and added: "Even guys with above-average hands go through some stretches where they make a few routine errors. He'll have his share.''
To Flores, the recent run of errors is no different from any cold streak at the plate. He believes there's an end in sight.
"It's just like hitting," he said. "Sometimes you're a good hitter and you're not hitting. You know you have to catch the ball and you just make an error. Sometimes they're just stupid errors [on plays] you should make. It happens."