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Lack of exhibition games hinders player evaluations for Mets' decision-makers

Reliever Edwin Diaz loosens up during Mets camp

Reliever Edwin Diaz loosens up during Mets camp at Citi Field on Saturday, July 11, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

With Opening Day less than two weeks away, manager Luis Rojas and other Mets decision-makers are figuring out a new challenge: How do you evaluate players — and decide who should be on the roster — based on a brief camp composed almost entirely of workouts and scrimmages?

Instead of a month of exhibition games like in a normal spring training, the Mets have just two scheduled, next Saturday and Sunday against the Yankees. Other than that, it will be Mets pitchers and hitters facing each other until July 24.

“It’s still too early to do those evaluations,” said Rojas, who noted that pitchers so far have “dominated” in the Mets’ practices, which is not unusual for an early spring training environment. “We might fool ourselves if we go with some of the things. I mean, batters are getting their rhythm in. They may take a couple days to (get) where they need to be.

“The pitchers are coming out strong from this break like they showed up in camp. I’m looking forward to this next week, the games, for them to start getting into the rhythm to see what they bring to the table for us, what the value is as we go into the season.”

The Opening Day roster will be 30 players. After two weeks, it will go down to 28 players. After another two weeks, 26 players.

The Mets don’t have any huge roster decisions to make, with the starting lineup, rotation and top bullpen spots already decided. But they will have choices toward the bottom of the depth chart at most positions.

Rojas said the Mets will have to balance a player’s track record with how he looks during camp in making those decisions.

“It should be a late, late call,” Rojas said. “Those discussions are not even close to being there yet.”

Interesting intrasquad

Amed Rosario, who has been playing catch-up since missing the first two days of camp, went 0-for-2 in his first intrasquad scrimmage Saturday.

J.D. Davis, trying to catch Max Moroff’s double, ran into the left-centerfield wall at full speed. He was slow to get up but appeared to be fine.

Jeff McNeil homered off of Hunter Strickland. As he rounded third, he gave a high-five to the not-present third-base coach.

Michael Wacha pitched four innings, up one from his outing five days prior. Steven Matz went three frames, the same as last time.

To make up for their rainout Friday, Jeurys Familia, Paul Sewald, Tyler Bashlor and Daniel Zamora threw live batting practice after the scrimmage.

Extra bases

Robinson Cano was absent for a fifth consecutive day. Reliever Brad Brach still isn’t in camp, either. “We expect to see them soon, but there’s no timeline on when we’re going to see those guys,” Rojas said … After 10 consecutive days of workouts, the Mets will mark the halfway point of camp with a day off Monday … Rojas on camp so far: “It’s been one week (nine days) and it feels like longer than that. We’ve had long days.”

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