ST. LOUIS — In case you were wondering: No, manager Luis Rojas has not considered dropping the deeply slumping Francisco Lindor from his usual No. 2 spot in the Mets’ lineup.
"No, no, not yet. I’m pretty set right now with him batting there," Rojas said Monday afternoon, before the Mets began a four-game series with the Cardinals. "It’s for the balance of the first few batters, the switch-hitting ability, his ability to run, his ability to do a lot of things — even though he’s not contributing at a rate that we expect him to do. I think guys can benefit because of that."
To say that Lindor is not contributing at the rate the Mets expect him to is an understatement. He went 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts, which lowered his average to .163, his OBP to .284 and his slugging percentage to .209. He stranded six runners in the Mets' 6-5 loss.
Twenty-two games into his Mets career, Lindor had two extra-base hits: a double on April 13 and a homer on April 21.
The latter, Lindor said at the time, was the "one swing" he needed to lock into a hot streak. It didn’t happen.
Nearly two weeks later, Lindor still is batting second, where he has been for all but two of the Mets’ contests. The exceptions came late last month, when he hit third one game and leadoff the next.
The recipient of a $341 million contract on the eve of the season, Lindor is one of two Mets players to start every game. The other is Pete Alonso.
One reason, via Rojas: Lindor is more than just a hitter.
"I’m going to start with the defensive part," Rojas said when the topic of Lindor’s struggles was first broached Monday. "Defensively, I think he’s been involved in the games that we’ve won, and he’s kept us there in some of the games that we haven’t won, because of his glove. I think his presence and what he brings to the ballpark every day, all the guys are energized from it. Guys have gotten better because of him.
"This guy is a star not only because of his bat. He’s a star because of all the other things that he does. Do we think his bat is going to come along? Yeah, I think his bat is going to come along. This guy, you could see that he’s got good body control and something is going to click soon."
It’s not just Lindor’s mainstream statistics that underwhelm. The underlying ones do, too, and there isn’t anything to suggest Lindor merely has been unlucky.
Relative to his Cleveland past, Lindor is hitting more balls softly and on the ground — i.e., the kind of contact that results in easy outs. Relatedly, his line-drive and hard-hit rates are down. Conversely, Lindor is walking a bit more and striking out a bit less than he usually does.
"I don't think the pitch selection has been [a problem]," Rojas said. "He's gotten pitches that have been good pitches to drive the other way but he's tried to pull those pitches. He's gotten pitches he's able to pull and he's pulled a little too early and pulled those foul — well-hit fouls.
"I have the trust that the way this guy works, the way we saw him in camp swinging and how well-connected he can be, he can click into it any day. Even though it's been repeated before and he's still struggling, I still feel Francisco is going to go out there tonight and have a good offensive night. You see it. You see his stance, you see his power, you see his feel for hitting."