PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Leading off for the Mets, Brandon Nimmo.
Sure, it’s just Friday’s Grapefruit League opener, against the Braves at First Data Field, but don’t be surprised to see more of Nimmo in the leadoff spot as long as Michael Conforto remains on the disabled list recovering from shoulder surgery.
Fact is, the Mets don’t have an obvious choice, and Nimmo — who is the team’s fourth outfielder — isn’t an everyday player. But when he does crack the lineup, either in centerfield or to spell Jay Bruce or Yoenis Cespedes, Nimmo is the most logical choice to bat atop the order after working a .379 on-base percentage in 69 games last year. In seven minor-league seasons, he had a .387 OBP and is quick enough to be a more than capable baserunner ahead of a solid middle of the lineup. Nimmo batted leadoff in eight games for the Mets last season, going 8-for-28 with four doubles, six walks and seven runs scored.
Mickey Callaway refused to delve too deep into the leadoff hitter debate. When asked if Nimmo is most qualified for that spot, the manager hedged. “I don’t know that I know enough information to really make that statement at this time,” Callaway said. “I know he has some good qualities, obviously on-base percentage, and things like that, especially when a righty’s pitching. But I’ll have to wait and see.”
After Nimmo, the Mets’ lineup will be, in order: Adrian Gonzalez (DH), Todd Frazier (3B), Dom Smith (1B), Travis d’Arnaud (C), Jose Reyes (2B), Amed Rosario (SS), Kevin Kaczmarski (RF) and Matt den Dekker (LF).
Friday will mark Callaway’s managerial debut, and he’ll have plenty of dugout logistics to figure out. He joked that he’s not sure yet where the coaches will be positioned, and one thing he won’t copy from his former manager, Terry Francona, is the obsessive gum-chewing. “I value my teeth,” he said.
Callaway doesn’t figure to be as hyper, either. “I’m a fairly laid-back guy,” he said. “I haven’t really thought about what I’m actually going to be doing. Hopefully I’m not going to be running around. I think I’ll just kind of hang out there and make sure I’m on top of everything.”