PHOENIX — In the jubilant haze of the Mets’ wild win Wednesday, as Francisco Alvarez rounded the bases following his down-to-their-last-strike tying home run, third-base coach Joey Cora sent a message: Tone it down.
Alvarez was “probably” the most excited he has ever been on the field, he said, which in the moment manifested itself in the form of a bat toss, a couple of jumps, a thumping of his chest and — briefly after rounding first base — jogging backward so he could see his equally excited teammates in the dugout. Cora, pushing his hands down, palms facing the ground, advised calm.
Cora’s point, which he reiterated in a conversation with Alvarez early Thursday, according to Alvarez, was that the Mets hadn’t actually won or accomplished anything yet, so maybe don’t be quite so emotional.
Alvarez, a 21-year-old rookie, appreciated the advice from Cora, who has been a baseball coach longer than Alvarez has been alive.
“I definitely respect that. It’s making me a better player at this point,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “I respect the old school, the way that they were able to pave the way for all of us and how they handled their emotions in their career. At the same time, me being part of the younger players, we have a little bit more emotion. I’m not saying that it’s always appropriate for every single situation, but I also feel like it brings energy to the team, especially for the big moments like that.”
For Alvarez, who has developed a habit of coming through in the clutch, it is part of finding the line between acceptable on-field celebration and going too far.
His thinking: If it is genuine, it is probably OK. If it is forced, not so much.
“It’s a difference of showing emotion and excitement, natural excitement, and there’s more of the showboating type,” said Alvarez, who emphasized he was most excited that his batterymate, Kodai Senga, who pitched excellently, wouldn’t get the loss. “Yesterday was just natural emotions. It wasn’t like I knew it [the homer] was gone immediately.”
Had the Mets trailed by a bunch and he hit a random garbage-time homer, he of course would not have had such a reaction, he said.
“I’m not one of those guys that tries to force down somebody’s throat the way we [played back in the day],” said manager Buck Showalter, who sometimes uses Cora as a liaison with a Spanish-speaking players. “That’s the way Joey was brought up. I think he wants to have the kid — because he’s such a great kid, nobody wants anybody to get the wrong impression of him. It’s sincere. I’m telling you, it’s sincere.”
As far as Showalter is concerned, if Alvarez keeps coming through huge in spots like that, have at it.
“Everybody was wanting that emotion,” he said. “What do they say? It’s not bragging if you can back it up?”
Third baseman Brett Baty was absent from the lineup because he had a sore left hamstring, a sudden development Thursday morning.
“We’re hoping it’ll manage itself,” Showalter said. “He didn’t feel it last night, nothing after the game. Woke up this morning a little sore and we thought it would be prudent to give him 24 hours.”
The Mets released righthander Chris Flexen. After acquiring him — and agreeing to take on nearly $4 million in his remaining salary — for the sake of adding reliever Trevor Gott in a deal with the Mariners on Monday, they immediately designated him for assignment . . . The Mets will keep their rotation in order for the series against the Padres, the last before the All-Star break: Justin Verlander on Friday, David Peterson on Saturday, Max Scherzer on Sunday . . . Showalter on a still-hot-hitting Tommy Pham: “I keep waiting for it to kind of fall off a little bit. He’s actually playing as good defensively as I’ve seen him. He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. I try not to do anything to jeopardize that.”