Mets manager Carlos Mendoza during a spring training workout, Monday...

Mets manager Carlos Mendoza during a spring training workout, Monday Feb. 19, 2024 in Port St. Lucie Fla. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Carlos Mendoza’s first spring training as Mets manager went – to use one of the 44-year-old’s most repeated phrases – “really good.”

After watching Luis Severino’s first bullpen session in mid-February, Mendoza said the righthander looked “really good.”

After mid-March outings for Severino, Jose Quintana and Tylor Megill, Mendoza’s first words when asked how they looked out there were “really good.” (Yes, reporters do ask the manager quite often how the starting pitcher “looked” out there.)

After Jeff McNeil played in his first minor-league game after a biceps injury, Mendoza said the  second baseman felt “really good.”

You get the idea.

“Really good” might not be the most exciting phrase to put on a T-shirt – it’s no “Ya Gotta Believe!” or “Put It In the Books!” – but if the Mets have a better-than-expected season under Mendoza, “really good” just might start sweeping Flushing.

New president of baseball operations David Stearns hired Mendoza in November to replace Buck Showalter, who was unceremoniously dumped the day before Stearns came on board.

Mendoza had been a longtime coach and manager in the Yankees' minor- league system. He then spent six years as a coach on Aaron Boone’s staff, the last four as bench coach.

Mendoza had been responsible for organizing the Yankees’ spring training schedule when he was Boone’s righthand man, so it was no surprise that with the Mets, he ran what by all accounts was a smooth, orderly camp.

“Sounds like it’s going well,” Boone said on March 5, when the Yankees visited the Mets for a spring training game.

Along with all the new faces in camp for Mendoza to get to know, there is one with whom he is most familiar: lefthander Jose Quintana, whom Mendoza tabbed to replace the injured Kodai Senga as the Mets’ Opening Day starter.

Quintana and Mendoza first met in 2011 when Quintana was a youngster getting his feet wet in the low minors.

“Nobody knew who he was,” Mendoza said. But the coach learned quickly and the two formed a bond that lasts to this day.

“Great memories,” said Quintana, 35. “Carlos was the first mentor I had when I came to the States and I’ve known him for a long time. I see how he's progressed to be a manager and it’s an honor to be the first starter for him. We’re back together again.”

Said Mendoza: “Obviously, we go back to the days when we were with the Yankees. I had him in the minor leagues and he was special. My first [Opening Day starter] as a manager, and to be able to [give] it to Jose means a lot to all of us.”

Mendoza seems to have impressed his players, and the always-smiling Stearns said he is happy with how the team looked in Mendoza’s first spring training.

“I think, really, just the atmosphere and culture among the group,” Stearns said about two weeks before Opening Day. “I think more than anything, that's what you're looking to build during spring training is an environment where players want to come to the field every day and an environment where coaches want to come to the field, where this is an enjoyable place for everyone to work, to work productively to get better, and I think Mendy and our coaching staff have done a tremendous job of building that.”

Former Yankee Severino said of Mendoza: “I see a different side of him because now he can talk more. Be more one-on-one with the players. I think he’s always been good at that, behind the scenes. I think that's why he’s going to be really good as a manager.”

There’s that phrase again. Maybe it will  catch on at Citi Field. Start making the T-shirts!


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