Yoenis Cespedes’ decision to opt out of the rest of this season leaves the Mets without a designated hitter. Manager Luis Rojas said he envisions using several different players in the role and it may allow the club to shore up one of its obvious weaknesses thus far: its defense.
Dominic Smith will get more at-bats at DH the rest of the way – but Rojas said Pete Alonso, J.D. Davis, Robinson Cano and Brian Dozier could also see at-bats out of the DH slot.
In each case, it might allow one of them to get a day off their feet while moving some better defenders on o the field.
By putting rookie shortstop Andres Gimenez at third base, it might allow Jeff McNeil to shift to leftfield and Davis to go to DH, improving the defense at two positions. Smith would be a slight upgrade over Alonso at first base, as would Gimenez be for Cano at second base. Rojas wants to see more Gimenez after he brought a .357 average into play Monday.
“McNeil in left has played more outfield games than Dom and probably JD. He’s a guy who can give us better defense in left,” Rojas said. “And having Gimenez at third – he was a shortstop – we’ll have more range at third. Our defense immediately improves and . . . Gimenez is swinging the bat really good.”
Davis was initially envisioned as a pinch hitter for Monday night’s game after reporting stomach discomfort early in the day, but he ended up in the starting lineup when McNeil experienced back tightness in batting practice. McNeil was to be making his first start of the season in leftfield. Smith went from DH to leftfield and Davis became the DH.
Because he opted out of the season, Cespedes was placed on the MLB restricted list. Catcher Ali Sánchez has been recalled from the team’s alternate training site, once again giving the team three catchers on the active roster. . . . righty reliever Hunter Strickland was outrighted to the alternate training site.