ST. LOUIS — Late Monday night, in an email and a tweet and a video news conference, the Mets told the world that they fired their hitting coaches, Chili Davis and Tom Slater.
That was how their players found out, too. Pete Alonso was eating dinner in the clubhouse when someone else’s phone went off. Francisco Lindor got a text as he was walking to the bus.
"I gave Slate and Chil two big ol' hugs," Alonso said, "and I cried at my locker for a little bit."
That encapsulated the reaction from the lowest-scoring roster in the National League: shock, plus some guilt.
The players didn’t agree with the front office’s choice, a sentiment they made clear during an in-person team meeting Tuesday with acting general manager Zack Scott.
Alonso said Scott offered the same explanation to players as he offered to reporters the night prior, that it was about organizational philosophy and direction, not recent performance.
"It was an explanation that still doesn't make sense to me right now," said a "perplexed" Alonso, who referred to "Uncle Chili and Uncle Slate" as "like family" and "outstanding individuals. "Things just aren't clear to me right now. And I don't know what the exact explanation is still. I'm still trying to find that out. I talked to Zack last night, I slept on it, we had a meeting today, and it still isn't clear to me. But I'm hoping that three or four months from now, we have the answer (via team success)."
Pressed for specifics about the meeting, Alonso and Lindor didn’t want to get into it.
"They know how we feel," Alonso said.
Alonso emphasized that he is looking forward to working with the replacements, hitting coach Hugh Quattlebaum and assistant hitting coach Kevin Howard, who were hired for player-development roles last offseason.
But mostly he was trying to wrap his head around losing the only major-league hitting coaches he has known. He said he plans to get together in the offseason with Slater, who lives in Tampa, like Alonso.
"There's a lot of what-ifs," Alonso said. "What if we're 10 games above .500 right now? What if we did this? What if we did that? What if we did this in the offseason or what if we did this in spring training? There's a lot of scenarios we play through our minds but to me it's still shocking. I'm just going to keep saying it: It doesn’t make sense to me right now."
Added Lindor, who has a .163/.284/.209 slash line: "Chili can't really hit for me. That's all on me. If I would've been hitting, would he still have a job? I don't know."
The coaching-staff shakeup yielded an inevitable question: Is Luis Rojas next?
"That’s a very good question," Alonso said. "But we can’t really worry about these changes. It’s tough not to think about it . . . . But we gotta win a (expletive) ballgame today. I’m sorry for cursing. But we gotta win."
Rojas said he wasn’t thinking about it.
"Just because in my view, it's very disrespectful to the group here to worry about (the firings) before worrying about the team," he said. "That’s not my concern right now."
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