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Francisco Lindor excited to 'join the ride' of playing for the Mets

Mets introduce Francisco Lindor

Newly acquired shortstop Francisco Lindor met the New York media in his introductory video news conference on Jan. 11, 2021.

It took about 2 1⁄2 minutes into Francisco Lindor’s first news conference as a Met for him to be asked about tying his fate to this team long-term.

For the record, Lindor, who is set to be a free agent at the end of this season, said he is amenable to a contract extension but that he hasn’t entered any conversations with the Mets, though he believes they could be imminent.

"I live day by day," the shortstop said, adding that he doesn’t intend to get into negotiations once spring training starts in earnest.

Lindor was peppered with those types of questions several other times during his official introduction, and he answered each with equanimity despite the fact that he was traded to the Mets by Cleveland only four days earlier.

But hey, he’s heard about the New York market, the place where things move fast and the questions are insistent. And if Monday morning’s performance was any indication, he’s excited and ready for the circus.

"I’m blessed to play the game that I’m playing today," Lindor said, flashing a wide smile, his baby daughter intermittently cooing in the background. "I’m Francisco Lindor. I’m going to do me and hopefully people like that and hopefully people embrace me. I’m going to embrace them. I’m going to enjoy the ride. I feel like I’m a little kid playing the best game out there, so why not?"

Lindor, 27, made it clear that he doesn’t consider himself the de facto leader of this season’s Mets. That job, he said, belongs to the players who have been here longer, though he does hope to lead by example.

Still, there’s no denying that the trade made a massive impact in the New York baseball world and beyond. He’s one of the best shortstops in the game — a switch hitter and a four-time All-Star — and is set for a big payday after this season.

When the trade for Lindor and righthander Carlos Carrasco became official last Thursday, it not only was met with jubilation by Mets fans online but was viewed as further confirmation that the team is headed into a new era under owner Steve Cohen. All that is a lot of pressure, but Lindor seemed able to shrug it off.

"[I’m] someone who plays the game, has fun, is honest when he has to be honest," he said. "I’m not trying to get a rope and getting everybody to hold the rope and [saying] ‘I’ll pull you guys.’ No, we’re all grabbing the rope right next to each other and we’re walking forward."

Lindor already has been in contact with a slew of his new teammates and was assured that it is a solid clubhouse where he can easily find his place. That no doubt helps with some of the "mixed emotions" he experienced when he learned he was leaving Cleveland, where he started his career.

His representative tried to negotiate an extension with his former team, he said, but the two sides couldn’t reach agreement. That’s no surprise, considering Cleveland is shedding payroll by the millions.

"I have nothing but respect for all of them" in Cleveland, Lindor said. "But also, there’s been so much excitement about the Mets that I couldn’t help myself to be extremely excited."

And though he eschewed that leader title, he said if it happens organically down the line, he’ll lean into it.

"[If] I’m one of the faces [of the team] — I embrace that," he said. "I’ve never been the type of player where it’s like ‘follow me, I’ll lead you to success.’ I’ve always been a person that, together, we [can] all achieve what we want . . . I just want to be a little piece of that puzzle."

To be sure, if general manager Jared Porter and team president Sandy Alderson have it their way, Lindor will be much more than a little piece, and it’ll be for much more than one season. But as with everything else, Lindor said he’ll deal with all of that when the time comes.

Until then, he’ll work on his game play and his conditioning and even that trademark grin — the one Alderson said made him smile, too.

"They say smiles are very contagious," Lindor said. "I’m going to bring Francisco Lindor, which is me, I’m going to do me on a daily basis . . . Why not smile? I’m living my dream. I’m living the life I always wanted."

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