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If Sunday was a preview of Opening Day, Mets manager Luis Rojas will take it

Mets' Francisco Lindor (12) follows through on a

Mets' Francisco Lindor (12) follows through on a two-run home run as Washington Nationals catcher Yan Gomes looks on during the fifth inning of a spring training baseball game, Sunday, March 21, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Spring training scores don’t mean anything, and statistics from this time of year hold virtually no predictive value.

But forgive manager Luis Rojas for dreaming just a bit after the Mets’ 6-2 exhibition win over the Nationals on Sunday.

Jacob deGrom pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings. Francisco Lindor and Michael Conforto homered against Max Scherzer, who allowed four runs in five innings and will start against the Mets on Opening Day. The Mets ran the bases well, Rojas said, and he was impressed with relief outings from Miguel Castro (struck out Juan Soto, his only batter) and Dellin Betances (perfect inning with soft contact).

"It’s real nice to see the guys play the way they did today," Rojas said. "A lot of good things, simulating how it’s going to be."

 

Rojas said before the game that it was "very much" possible for the Mets to gain something from seeing Scherzer so close to Opening Day, though the same would be true for the Nationals facing deGrom. For their next starts, deGrom will pitch Friday — maybe against the Nationals, maybe against his own teammates — and the Nationals will have Scherzer go Saturday, a day when they’re not playing the Mets.

"It becomes a mind game where you're tracking sequences and different things like that," Rojas said. "To start those conversations in the dugout is very productive. This is the Opening Day matchup. You want those conversations to start happening — the earlier, the better."

Lindor was hitless in his first three Grapefruit League games but has homered in three of his past four.

"We’re seeing the hot version of him right now," Rojas said.

Bumps in the bullpen

Drew Smith is dealing with a sore right shoulder, Rojas said, thrusting into question his status in the bullpen competition. He has been absent from games since March 13.

"This is a bump in the way for him, but we still know that he’s got the stuff to get outs and to be a valuable piece for us, whether it’s in the middle of games or it’s late in games," Rojas said. "We expect for him to navigate through this and get back into action. We do not have the timeline."

That is in addition to Arodys Vizcaino, who has a sore right elbow. The Mets expect him to return to games by the weekend.

Syndergaard’s simulation

Noah Syndergaard’s latest tiny step forward in his Tommy John surgery rehabilitation: a bullpen session with a batter standing in the batter’s box.

Catching prospect Francisco Alvarez drew the honors Sunday morning in Port St. Lucie and repeatedly was instructed by pitching coach Jeremy Hefner not to swing and to just stand there, to give Syndergaard the feeling of having a batter present.

After he reached his predetermined pitch count, Syndergaard wanted to throw one more. Hefner said no. Syndergaard insisted. Hefner allowed it.

Extra bases

James McCann was the only starter missing from the Mets’ lineup, but Rojas said it was just a day off before he catches Joey Lucchesi on Monday . . . Castro hasn’t allowed a hit in 4 1/3 exhibition innings. Edwin Diaz is up to five scoreless innings with two hits, seven strikeouts and no walks.

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