ATLANTA — On his second day in the majors, Francisco Alvarez was on the bench. And in the bullpen. Manager Buck Showalter opted to use Daniel Vogelbach as the DH on Saturday instead of Alvarez, who went 0-for-4 in his debut Friday.
Before entering as a pinch hitter and going hitless in two at-bats, Alvarez stayed busy, working with fellow catcher James McCann and catching instructor/bench coach Glenn Sherlock.
Their agenda included Alvarez catching a bullpen session, getting reacquainted with the PitchCom system for electronically calling pitches and talking with McCann about pitch sequencing and how to approach major-league hitters.
Whether that was merely about the 20-year-old Alvarez’s ongoing development as a backstop or about him potentially getting behind the plate in an upcoming game was not clear. But Showalter hinted the latter is possible.
“Everything is in play,” he said. “He’s very capable of doing it. If we need to, I wouldn’t rule anything out at this point. I’d love at some point if everything would cooperate, but I’m not going to commit to or deny it.”
Alvarez’s defensive skill set is considered well behind his offensive ability, though the Mets say they like his work ethic and coachability.
But his hitting is why they made the surprise move Friday to promote him to the majors for the first time. He faced a lefthanded starter (Max Fried) and remained in the game against a pair of righty relievers.
Showalter has said he is open to Alvarez facing righthanded starters, at-bats that have gone to Vogelbach in recent months. This time, Showalter liked Vogelbach’s chances against Atlanta righty Kyle Wright (as well as the option of having Alvarez face one of the lefthanded relievers).
In the meantime, the Mets are happy to have Alvarez learn from Sherlock. “He’s very quietly one of the better catching instructors you’ll find,” Showalter said.
Marte still hurting
Starling Marte (fractured right middle finger) still is not throwing or swinging, Showalter said. The pain in his finger has continued to lessen, but apparently not enough. “From what I’ve been hearing, I thought it was a pretty positive narrative today,” Showalter said. “So, making progress.”
Marte hasn’t played since Sept. 6. The Mets have said they don’t know when he’ll return.
Nido starts three in row
Tomas Nido started at catcher for a third consecutive game Saturday. That marked only the second time all season that the Mets — during stretches when Nido and McCann both were healthy and available — went with the same guy behind the plate in that many games in a row.
Showalter attributed that mini-trend to Nido’s recent hot hitting. In September, he had a .333/.340/.608 slash line with three homers (after hitting none in the year-plus before that). “He’s swinging a hot bat and we’re going to take advantage of it with five games left to play,” Showalter said. “He’s had some good collisions. He’s been swinging the bat well. He’s had some production for us.”
Mychal Givens (COVID-19 injured list) and Tommy Hunter (low back soreness) each threw a simulated inning on Saturday. Givens is eligible to be activated. Hunter will be eligible Sunday. Mets decision-makers discussed Saturday what to do with them, but part of the problem is they don’t have any obvious candidates to remove from the roster to make room.
Jeff McNeil finished Saturday hitting .323, second in the NL behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman (.329) . . . File under things that might matter: The Marlins shut down their ace, Sandy Alcantara, so he won’t make one last start. That would have come against Atlanta on Wednesday, the regular-season finale.