Francisco Lindor of the New York Mets hits a home run...

 Francisco Lindor of the New York Mets hits a home run during the third inning of a spring game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Clover Park on March 27, 2022 in Port St. Lucie. Credit: Getty Images/Eric Espada

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla — For Francisco Lindor, the greatest reminder that spring training statistics are practically useless is his own camp performance from a year ago.

He had a terrific Grapefruit League campaign, then had a terrible first month-plus to open the worst year of his career. So when you see him doing good things at the plate — two homers on Sunday, three in five games overall — know that neither he nor hitting coach Eric Chavez is getting too giddy about it.

Don’t fall for a potential March mirage. Wait for the real deal.

“What’s the secret going into the season?” Lindor said Monday of continuing his recent success when the games count. “That’s a billion-dollar secret. If you find it, let me know. I’ll buy it from you.”

The reasons for general spring skepticism are aplenty, and they all come back to nobody taking these games very seriously. Opposing pitchers, often of a lower quality than Lindor will see come the regular season, don’t attack hitters with strategic game plans. Hitters, likewise, don’t do the same sort of preparation or bring the same degree of focus that will come late next week.

Chavez compared it to his playing days, when — even after establishing himself as a perennial Gold Glove third baseman — he would make a bunch of errors each spring training, triggering external agita. But it didn’t matter to him.

Instead of hitters mashing their way through the exhibition schedule, he actually prefers the opposite.

“I don’t really look at performance,” said Chavez, who played 17 seasons in the majors and is entering his first year with the Mets. “I actually want guys to struggle a little bit in spring. If they’re just coming out raking, they’re like, ‘Oh, I’m good.’ But I want guys to actually kind of struggle and have to tinker with things and have to feel their way through things.

“Some of our younger guys, I told them, ‘I’m going to see how you guys construct an at-bat, how you take pitches. I want to see 2-and-2 counts, the middle of the count. Work a little more.’ Performance has nothing to do with it.

“I’ve seen guys hit .700 in spring, I’ve seen guys hit 10 home runs in spring. I’ve seen guys hit .150 and come out raking in April.”

Chavez will make note of hitters’ performances in the final five or so games of camp, a countdown that begins Thursday for the Mets. As the season draws near, they should be more intense, he said. And the mental results are just as important as the physical ones.

“I want guys to really get engaged in game-like, season-like situations,” Chavez said. “I’m more focused on head space and feeling good and having to work through something.”

All that said, Lindor’s greater comfort this time around — compared to being the new guy who was negotiating a gigantic contract extension at this point last year — is worth something, he said. Also, he is satisfied that he has been backspinning the ball, which allows it to travel farther. That was not true last year despite the flashy Grapefruit statistics.

“Every time you get familiarized with something, that brings comfort,” Lindor said. “I feel more comfortable. I know pretty much everybody, and the ones that don’t know me usually come to me to meet me now.”

Sounds as if Lindor is right where Chavez wants him to be, stats or not.

“Him feeling good about what he’s doing is more important to me than actually producing numbers,” he said. “I want them to feel good. I want them to have a plan, whatever, make sure they’re swinging at pitches. But then really dial it in mentally in the last week, rolling that into the season.”

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