After four straight days starting at shortstop — and making some spectacular plays in the process — Gimenez was subbed out for Rosario at shortstop Tuesday, but still got the start, this time at second base. He also earned some unreserved praise from Luis Rojas, who said that while he doesn’t consider shortstop a true platoon, he’ll continue to put out the best nine players every game. It just so happens that recently, that’s been Gimenez.
“His ability is unbelievable out there,” Rojas said before the game against the Orioles. “He’s always on his toes. He’s thinking. He’s anticipating. That also gives him the chance to play second and third, like he has for us, at a plus level.”
Gimenez made a number of sterling defensive plays at short on Monday, including one that Rojas was still marveling at on Tuesday — a throw from the third-base line on a shift to get a speedy Didi Gregorius at first.
“Off the bat, I’ll tell you the truth, I had it as an infield single,” Rojas said. “The next thing you know, the ball’s at first and he got him by a foot or so. This kid is anticipating. He’s always on his toes. It’s almost like he’s moving before the ball is put in play.”
All told, Gimenez has two defensive runs saved, compared to Rosario’s -4, along with a .293 average and a robust 0.7 WAR after only 34 games. His versatility — he can also play second and third, though he only picked up the positions two years ago — has given him added value as Rojas tries to puzzle out a lineup that will get the Mets into the playoffs with only 18 games to play (they’re in a somewhat dire position, despite the expanded postseason, and came into Tuesday two games out of a wild-card spot). Including Tuesday, Gimenez has played 13 games at second, and started four, and played in nine games at third.
Rojas, who was Gimenez’s manager in Binghamton in 2018, said that when they introduced the new positions, they wanted him to have more versatility in preparation for the Fall League. They seemed to have gotten even more than they expected.
“It was like nothing for him,” Rojas said. “It was really easy to work with him because of his footwork, IQ, everything . . . He’s really coachable. So, working with him, we figured that out, and he adapted to third. We were very comfortable putting him at any of those three positions knowing he was going to make the play.”
Gimenez, for his part, said he’s constantly trying to anticipate a situation. That extends to his preparation at the two bases, too.
“I always work at all the other bases in the infield,” he said through an interpreter. “I’ve gotten more comfortable as I’ve played more games there, but now, at this point, I feel comfortable at all bases.”
All this means that, even in this short span, Gimenez has inserted himself in the NL Rookie of the Year conversation. None of that has seemed to faze him, nor does he betray any awe at how quickly he’s been able to adjust during a season that’s had even veterans trying to get their bearings.
Going into Tuesday, Gimenez was hitting 9-for-21, with seven runs, a double, a home run, a walk, six RBIs and a steal in his last seven games with a plate appearance.
“I think I’ve progressed in all facets of the game,” he said. “Physically, I have [progressed] obviously, but also my skills have [gotten] more refined throughout the years and I think that’s what’s helped me have success now.”
And that has made him indispensable, no matter where he plays.