New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo during a spring training...

New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo during a spring training workout, Monday Feb. 19, 2024 in Port St. Lucie FL. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Right on time, Brandon Nimmo made his delayed debut Sunday.

He went 0-for-2 and played four innings in leftfield in his first spring training game, a 5-2, six-inning, rain-shortened loss to the Astros.

This marked the third year in a row that Nimmo — taking a deliberate, patient, workload-monitoring approach to camp — got into a Grapefruit League game after most of the rest of the Mets. He stumbled upon that approach in 2022, when the lockout led to a shortened preseason, and has stuck with it ever since because he believes it helps keep him healthy.

“It’s worked the last two seasons, so let’s keep that going,” Nimmo said. “We know how the last couple of years have gone, this is what’s worked, this is what hasn’t. Each time we go through it, we know a little bit better what to do. So I feel like this has been an even more seamless process.

“Everybody was on board right away. Talked to [Carlos Mendoza], talked to David [Stearns]. I said, hey, this is how I usually go about spring trainings. How do you guys feel about it? They said the results speak for themselves.”

After playing six and eight games the past two spring trainings, Nimmo does expect a higher total this time around. That’s because he is preparing to play some leftfield and some centerfield once the season starts, so he wants to practice in both spots, he said. The Mets’ plan is for him to start the season by playing mostly left, with Harrison Bader in center.

In this first game, Nimmo noted that he got “a good amount of running in out there,” which made him happy. He fielded four batted balls (and pursued two homers).

Much of that came as Houston battered righthander Adrian Houser for three runs and four hits in 1 2⁄3 innings.

“I got to work with some runners on base, got some high-stress innings, was able to get a little bit of a workload with some stress on the bases like that,” Houser said. “Just get the body used to that and be able see how I recover and rebound tomorrow. Overall, pretty happy with it.”  

Cut day

The Mets made their first round of spring training cuts, which included most of the best prospects in major-league camp: infielders Jett Williams and Luisangel Acuna, outfielder Drew Gilbert, pitchers Christian Scott, Mike Vasil and Dominic Hamel, and catcher Kevin Parada.

“It was a really good opportunity to get to know a lot of these kids and watching them go about their business on and off the field,” Mendoza said. “[Their lesson should be about] the relationships, the connections. Watching the veteran guys go about their business, how they prepare, their routines, how they develop those routines. That is basically the biggest takeaway, how to lead by example, not only what you say but by your actions. That was some of the messaging I said to them.”

Also sent to minor-league camp were pitchers Kolton Ingram, Eric Orze, Cam Robinson and Danny Young.

Extra bases

Sean Manaea made what he called a “pretty impulsive” decision to cut his hair for the first time since May 2020. He had been rocking Troy Polamalu-esque curls but said he decided “it was time” .  .  . Edwin Diaz will pitch in a minor-league game Tuesday, Mendoza said. That would leave a major-league exhibition as his next step as he closes in on the first anniversary of the season-ending knee injury he suffered last March 15 .  .  . For the Mets’ day off Monday, Mendoza planned to drive across the state to see his family in Tampa. Stearns said both ends of camp, major and minor, will be closed for a bona fide day off for everybody.

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