New York Mets catcher Gary Sanchez walks to the dugout...

New York Mets catcher Gary Sanchez walks to the dugout against the Cleveland Guardians during Game One of a day-night MLB baseball doubleheader at Citi Field on Sunday, May 21, 2023. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

CHICAGO — The Mets’ Gary Sanchez era is over already.

They ended that experiment Thursday by designating Sanchez, the former power-hitting Yankees catcher, for assignment to make room for Tomas Nido, who returned from the injured list, prior to their series finale with the Cubs.

Sanchez spent six days in the majors with the Mets, going 1-for-6 with three strikeouts in three games. He also played poorly defensively.

“We tried to do some things while Tomas is out,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Trying to make the club as good as it can be each day. Now we think it is with Tomas back . . . I’m glad we went down that path and I’m glad Tomas is back.”

When the Mets signed Sanchez, 30, to a minor-league contract on May 9, Francisco Alvarez wasn’t producing at the plate, Nido had taken a step back from last season and offseason acquisition Omar Narvaez was out hurt for about another month. They called him to the majors 10 days later.

But now, with Alvarez hitting well and Nido deemed recovered from a vision issue that might have contributed to his regression early this season, the Mets had little room or need for Sanchez.

The biggest piece is the 21-year-old Alvarez establishing himself as a top option. He entered Thursday slashing .294/.379/.667 in May, in addition to high-end framing skills and earning the respect of the pitching staff.

 

Nido described the rookie as “unbelievable.”

“I’m so happy for him. Huge fan of him, I’ve always been. I’ve always told him he belongs here,” he said. “We knew he could do it. It just takes time to get used to it. He’s really putting it together right now.”

Nido missed about two weeks with dry eye syndrome. Among the solutions, he said: a minimally invasive procedure to install punctal plugs into his tear ducts, which will help keep his eyes lubricated, new allergy medications and new glasses and contact lenses.

He had LASIK eye surgery about five years ago, so readjusting took time.

“Part of the reason I couldn’t just do it on the fly was because I needed to get used to the prescription and the depth perception and all those things,” he said. “This is the best outcome on the situation, so I’m glad we were able to put this to rest now.”

Nido was hitting .118 with no extra-base hits and a .148 OBP when he went on the IL. Showalter said “I hope” the eye problems partially caused the hitting problems.

“Obviously, [seeing well is] a very important thing for a hitter and a catcher at this level,” Showalter said. “I’m hoping we see a good result with this. I’m sure it was hard on him. He wanted to be here but couldn’t do what he was being asked to do.”

Nido said: “I don’t really want to put excuses. I’m sure it affected it in some ways, but it is what it is. I feel a lot better now and I’m excited to go out there and get going again.”

Showalter declined to commit to Alvarez as the clear-cut starting catcher or any sort of playing-time split, though he did say: “I’m not going to let Tomas sit over there for a long time. There’s a part of this where he needs to test where he is with everything.”

Despite his hot hitting — and being third on the team with six home runs — Alvarez still has been batting ninth.

“Where do you want me to put him, 10th?” Showalter said. “What’s the thought? Well, he’s doing well down there. Try to leave it there. We’re happy with the way he’s progressing down there and continue down that path with him. They all have a chance to work their way up, but that would sometimes be at the expense of somebody else. We know how things ebb and flow during a season. I like the idea of having [leadoff man Brandon] Nimmo hit behind him.”

Extra bases 

Mark Vientos was on the bench for the fourth time in eight games since being called up. Showalter cited the team’s internal projections and Daniel Vogelbach’s track record as reason to go with Vogelbach  . .  . Showalter on Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman pounding his chest and looking into the Mets’ dugout during his start against them Wednesday: “It doesn’t surprise anybody, right? It’s his MO, right? If you don’t like it, do something about it. Play better.”

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