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Mets see signs of Amed Rosario becoming a force

Mets shortstop Amed Rosario is greeted in the

Mets shortstop Amed Rosario is greeted in the dugout after scoring in the eighth inning against the Nationals at Citi Field on Saturday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Amed Rosario’s nickname — written on the back of his jersey for players’ weekend — is El Niño. In Spanish, el niño means the boy or the kid, but most people probably know El Niño as the force of nature that likes to disrupt things in South America and sometimes even causes hurricanes.

And it turns out, that dichotomy suits Rosario pretty well.

At times, he’s the kid — when he’s not being patient at the plate or when he’s making an ill-timed steal, things he occasionally still does. But sometimes he shows flashes of being something a little bit more: Something the Mets genuinely hope can turn into the force of nature they believed they had when he was coming up through the farm system.

Rosario on Saturday showed both sides of himself. In the third, he made the poor decision to steal with two outs and Matt Wieters behind the plate; he was out by a full stride or more, and ended the inning. And in the sixth, he homered to left to give the Mets their first lead of the game. Then, in the eighth, he beat out a potential double-play ball and eventually came around to score.

Rosario is hitting .314 with three doubles, three home runs, 13 RBIs, 14 runs and five steals in his last 16 games.

“He comes to play hard every day [and] I love his enthusiasm,” Mickey Callaway said, nonetheless implying that it hasn’t always been completely smooth sailing.

“I think we’ve had to have some conversations with him at certain times. He’s still a young player, so just play the game as hard as you can. We’re now giving him one or two days off a week to keep his energy level up. I think that’s helped and the fact that some of our coaches have talked to him, you’re a young player, you’re not going to break down. There’s no need to pull the throttle back when you’re running to first.”

But the changes the Mets hoped for do seem to be coming, even if maybe on a different timetable than expected.

After Brandon Nimmo’s injury, Rosario became the everyday leadoff hitter, and he seems to be thriving there. Jose Bautista has taken him under his wing and helped teach him patience at the plate, Callaway said.

I think he’s kind of instinctively a little more patient when he leads off,” Callaway said. “He’s spent more and more time around Jose Bautista and has talked to him and watched his ABs, and obviously Josey puts together some real patient at-bats . . . . I think that’s rubbed off on Rosey.”

The result has pleased the team, and the dividends are coming.

“I really like him there,” Callaway said of Rosario batting first. “I wanted to see if he could handle it. He had made significant adjustments already and he was doing a good job . . . Ever since he’s been there, it’s been a good test for him and he’s responded nicely.”

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