Mets' Brett Baty belts home run, makes error in exhibition opener
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — In less than three innings in the Mets’ first exhibition game Saturday, Brett Baty put on full display why he is such a tantalizing prospect — and why he might not be ready to establish himself as a major-leaguer.
In the top of the first inning of a 4-2 loss to the Astros, Baty slammed a fastball to straightaway centerfield, the kind of easy power the Mets envisioned when they drafted him four years ago. Righthander Brandon Bielak started him off with back-to-back curveballs, so Baty guessed a fastball was next. He was correct.
But in the bottom of the third, he committed a fielding error, booting a routine ground ball to his glove side.
Consider it the dichotomy of Baty. His bat is majors-ready or close to it, in the Mets’ view, his glove less so. Team officials have emphasized in recent weeks the need for prospects to be adequate defensively before they are trusted with regular playing time in the majors.
“It hopped up,” Baty said of the errant grounder. “I got to turn my glove around. I gotta know better than that. I can’t be making the same mistakes over and over again. At the end of the day, I have to own it and make the play next time.”
Knowing his limitations and seeking to get off the turf fields he had in Texas, the 23-year-old Baty showed up to Mets camp weeks early, ready to work with infield coach Joey Cora.
With Eduardo Escobar at third base and Daniel Vogelbach due to get most of the DH at-bats, Baty has little chance of making the Opening Day roster, barring a veteran getting injured or otherwise removed from the roster.
Highlighting the nightcap of the Mets’ split-squad doubleheader, a 5-2 win over the Marlins in the Clover Park opener: Pete Alonso went 3-for-3, including a laser of a home run to left-centerfield in his first at-bat.
He said batting with a new pitch clock felt different and that he is trying to figure out a new pre-at-bat or pre-pitch routine.
“I want to be able to develop something where I have time, where I have certain cues [to be ready for a pitch],” Alonso said. “I still want to be able to have total control over that. The pitch clock stuff is new, and now that we actually get to play games against an opponent, it’s something I want to tinker with.”
Righthander Jose Butto struck out four consecutive Miami batters in 1 2⁄3 innings (one run). He also walked two batters and reached his pitch count, totaling 43, before he could finish the second frame.
“I started really focusing on getting that outside part of the plate there, so I was really effective with my slider,” he said through an interpreter.
Butto, who turns 25 next month, is a depth rotation option for the Mets and is poised to open the season with Triple-A Syracuse.
Darin Ruf has started hitting, he said. That was the activity that caused his right wrist the most pain, but he is working his way toward normal after a cortisone shot Monday . . . Buck Showalter, 66, on meeting umpires along with 73-year-old Astros manager Dusty Baker pregame: “Dusty and I will go up to home plate today with a cane.” . . . The Mets’ games Saturday, their first with the pitch clock, came in at 2:33 and 2:35 . . . The Mets announced a sellout crowd of 7,109 for their home exhibition opener. The sprinklers went off during the bottom of the fifth, briefly pausing play.
With David Lennon