PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Luis Rojas has had lots of firsts in his initial weeks as Mets manager, and Monday brought another: first time addressing his newly gathered team ahead of its first full-squad workout of spring training.
Rojas, who managed in the minors for eight seasons and spent 2019 on the Mets’ major-league coaching staff, said the occasion made him “very emotional in the moment — heated up, energized because I was talking to the guys.”
“Being there with the entire squad, that was a pretty special moment,” Rojas said. “We talked about communication, trust and accountability, which we always bring up as our values. We talked about preparation and our talent and how we’re always going to motivate each other in spring training and throughout the season and on top of that, have fun.”
That is all well and good, but was Rojas’ version any different from what any manager says at this time of year?
“I wouldn’t say that the content was totally different, but it felt different and Luis was delivering it really well and he’s obviously very excited about this,” Brandon Nimmo said. “It felt different this year, maybe because a lot of the guys do feel really confident about what we have here in this clubhouse. I think the guys have bought in as well and understand we do have a chance.”
Added Dominic Smith: “[Rojas] made a couple comments that a lot of managers probably wouldn’t say right away. He said we’re in ‘win-now’ mode and we have the pieces to do it.”
One of Nimmo’s takeaways on the message from Rojas and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who also spoke: Being good at baseball isn’t necessarily enough. Mets decision-makers want Mets players to like each other.
“They were addressing that we have a lot of talent, and it’s going to take more than talent to win a championship,” Nimmo said. “Just what they wanted from us as far as working hard and motivating ourselves and really just looking at the guy next to you and [growing] team chemistry and wanting it for the guy next to you as well.
“Those little things, the intangibles, are going to be what sets you apart, so just reinforcing those values of the team.”
Jed Lowrie (unspecified left knee issue) fully participated in the Mets’ workout Monday, Rojas said, including taking grounders at second. Rojas added that “I don’t know” if Lowrie will be ready for exhibition games, which start Saturday . . . All of the Mets’ 63 spring training players — the 40-man roster, plus 23 nonroster invitees — reported to camp on time . . . Another link in the Carlos Beltran-induced promotion chain: Rich Donnelly is the new manager for Class A St. Lucie. He replaces Chad Kreuter, who replaced Brian Schneider, who replaced Rojas, who replaced Beltran. Now the Mets need to fill Donnelly’s previous spot, Triple-A Syracuse bench coach.