LOS ANGELES - Many times, the learning moments are invisible.
They take the form of a missed sign, or perhaps a miscommunication that leads to poor positioning. The margin can be as slim as a step or two in either direction, perceived only by a coach or a teammate.
Then, there are the painful moments that can't be obscured, the ones that a stadium full of people can't miss. And in Friday night's 6-2 loss to the Dodgers, there was no concealing the shortcomings of Wilmer Flores.
"You've got to learn from those mistakes," said Flores, whose second error of the night paved the way for the Dodgers' three-run seventh. "It's not going to be the last one . . . I've just got to keep my head up."
Flores wasn't solely to blame for a Mets loss that doubled as slapstick comedy.
Once more, a punchless lineup offered little resistance, save for Curtis Granderson's leadoff homer. And first baseman Lucas Duda flubbed a soft pop-up in foul ground in the eighth inning, an embarrassing gaffe that summed up a sloppy night.
"When you look up, and you've got as many errors as you've got hits, that's not a good feeling," manager Terry Collins said.
Yet, it was Flores' missteps that packed the most consequence, especially with the Mets committed to giving him an extended audition at shortstop.
The Mets declared Ruben Tejada's stewardship of the position done, a decision reached after two years of wild inconsistency and subpar offense.
In Flores, 23, they see a valuable bat. It's one that belongs in the lineup if Flores compensates for his lack of range by simply handling routine plays. With the postseason out of reach -- the possibility of qualifying has become strictly mathematical -- the tradeoff makes perfect sense.
But Flores is hitting just .241 with a .281 on-base percentage in August, results that look indistinguishable from that of Tejada. Defensively, the difference has been evident, and Friday night it was most obvious.
"He's played pretty well," Collins said. "It's just one of those nights."
Flores got away with his first error, which came in the fourth, after the Dodgers already had taken a 2-1 lead.
Yasiel Puig's two-out grounder glanced off Flores' glove, and as the shortstop scrambled after the ball, he tripped over his own feet. The error didn't burn the Mets when Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to end the inning, though Flores said it was the type that "gets in your mind."
Flores didn't get as lucky in the seventh, with the Mets down just 2-1.
Jonathon Niese (7-9) began the inning with strikeouts of Erisbel Arruebarrena and pinch hitter Darwin Barney. But Dee Gordon tripled down the line in right, and Puig worked a walk, bringing up Gonzalez.
Niese, who deserved a better fate, executed the pitch as he had hoped. Gonzalez hit the ball on the ground. Flores fielded it with plenty of time. But his throw sailed wide of a sprawling Duda at first base and Gordon jogged home.
Matt Kemp followed with a two-run double. A one-run deficit ballooned into a four-run hole, which proved insurmountable given another punchless night by the Mets' bats.
The inning before, while covering second base on a throw, Flores' right hand got spiked by a siding Scott Van Slyke. Even though pain persisted after the game, the shortstop insisted that it did not affect his throw.
On a night in which his flaws were exposed, Flores dismissed any excuses.
"I kind of rushed a little bit," said Flores, his hand covered by a wrap. "I just made a bad throw in a bad situation."