CHICAGO — The first-place Mets have stunk at scoring so far this season, and hitting coach Chili Davis has a few ideas why.
"I’m probably going to make a lot of excuses here," Davis said Wednesday, prior to the Mets’ game against the Cubs. "But it’s not as much excuses. It’s more reality."
The Mets’ start-and-stop schedule to open the season — including playing more than three days in a row just once — has prevented hitters from getting into a rhythm, Davis said. The weather, similarly, has prevented them from taking batting practice on the field, which they did for the first time in a week on Wednesday. And, of course, the team had played only a dozen games as of Davis’ comments, so it is hard to draw any firm conclusions from that sample.
Heading into play Wednesday, the Mets averaged 3.17 runs per game, last in the majors. They ranked 21st in average (.241), fourth in OBP (.330) and 29th in slugging percentage (.346).
Davis, though, isn’t concerned.
"We haven’t had the consistent playing time for me or for them to start worrying about things," he said. "I know that once we get this offense clicking, then we’re a force."
Individually, too, the Mets have struggled. Except for leadoff man Brandon Nimmo, whose .490 OBP was third in the majors, most of the regulars haven’t performed like their regular selves.
That is especially true for Francisco Lindor, the Mets’ marquee offseason addition and the recipient of a $341 million contract on the eve of Opening Day. He hit his first home run with the Mets in the first inning Wednesday. Before that, an 0-for-4 effort Monday night, which included a first-pitch groundout with the bases loaded to end the game, dropped his slash line to .171/.327/.195.
Of all the struggling Mets — including Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso and James McCann — Davis identified Lindor as the one struggling most.
"I don’t want to pick on anybody but, we probably would all say Francisco right now," Davis said. "But I don’t look at it that way. I’m looking at as, when he locks it in and he starts feeling good, we expect a lot out of him because of the caliber of player he’s been, which is not unfair. But I don’t think that that would bother him, that the expectations are high. Because I think he has high expectations of himself as well."
Davis spent two hours Tuesday night watching video of Lindor’s at-bats, observing habits from 2017 through this week. Also, he recently spoke with Victor Rodriguez, his former Red Sox coworker who is Cleveland’s assistant hitting coach and worked with Lindor the previous three seasons.
Rodriguez reminded Davis of an exercise that Lindor likes — called a "tunnel drill" — which helps him fix his "swing path," according to Davis.
In addition to a lack of consistent opportunities, Davis cited Lindor’s transition to a new league, where he is not as familiar with the pitchers, as a reason for the slump.
"There’s no possible way that his bat speed is an issue. It’s just a feel," Davis said. "The most important thing right now is listening to Francisco, like I said. How’s he feel? What is he feeling? What is he trying to get back to?"
He likened coaching Lindor — a perennial All-Star and consistently above-average hitter — to coaching David Ortiz.
"He’s had so much success in his past," Davis said. "I gotta listen to him, because he’s a guy that’s feeling what’s going on. But I think if I can help him and show him maybe some videos or maybe saying, remember when you used to feel this or you felt that? Just little suggestions with him. But you don’t want to be in his face every day. You just don’t want to do that. You want to let him kind of feel it out and find it."
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