PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — When first baseman Matt Adams signed a minor-league contract with the Mets, who have lots of first basemen (including one of the best in the majors), he knew he would have to assimilate to the Mets’ nascent culture via versatility — a major buzzword for the organization in spring training this year.
Jeff McNeil will play mostly third base but still can move around. J.D. Davis will play leftfield and third and maybe first. Dominic Smith will keep working in left in addition to his natural position of first. Brandon Nimmo, Jake Marisnick and Michael Conforto can play all over the outfield. Even Yoenis Cespedes might get some practice at first.
So Adams will try to add a second position to his repertoire: leftfield. He has dabbled there in the past — 34 games, fewer than 5% of the defensive innings in his career — but called it “still a fairly new position for me.”
“So the more reps the better,” he said. “I think just getting with the coaching staff and seeing how I can incorporate both — get my work in at first base, get work in in the outfield and get more comfortable out there. The main thing is shagging, getting balls off the bat and seeing the flight of the ball and reacting that way.”
As the Mets’ roster is constructed now, Adams doesn’t have a clear path to breaking camp with the major-league team. He is well aware that first base is stacked, starting with Pete Alonso, but said he still viewed joining the Mets as “possibly a good opportunity for me.”
Adams, 31, a veteran of eight major-league seasons and a member of the 2019 World Series champion Nationals, said he is looking forward to learning from Alonso, the 2019 National League Rookie of the Year — even if Alonso, 25, has his primary position locked down.
“[The Mets] told me to come into camp ready to compete,” Adams said. “Pete is not going anywhere. He’s a stud. It’s very, very cool to be able to learn from him, just a great young dude that is way beyond his years.”
Zack Wheeler opted not to continue his war of words with Brodie Van Wagenen. Speaking to reporters at Phillies camp Saturday in Clearwater, he said, “He has taken a couple of things I said to heart, I guess, that I really didn't mean for him to do. But I don't care … I don’t want to make this go on any further … We’re two grown-ups here and we battle like little kids.” … When Noah Syndergaard took the field for a routine warmup with about 20 other pitchers Saturday, they were all topless — except for him. Consider it a group razzing of Syndergaard for his half-naked workouts, evidence of which he posts to his social media accounts. “It was a collaboration prank by the team,” manager Luis Rojas said. “They delivered.”