WASHINGTON — One focus in spring training that continues to be a work in progress for the Mets: controlling the running game.
The Nationals stole five bases in five attempts against Mets pitchers and catcher Travis d’Arnaud on Saturday, and manager Mickey Callaway said that needs to — and will — get better.
“We probably do need to do a little bit better job, especially with a runner on second,” Callaway said. “We have to pay a little more attention there. We don’t want guys running at will on us. We’ll continue trying to improve.
“It’s tough to make that adjustment just during spring training. It’s going to take some time for some of these guys throughout the season.”
Four of Saturday’s steals came while Steven Matz was pitching: Trea Turner, Brian Goodwin, Michael A. Taylor and Pedro Severino.
Bryce Harper stole against Jeurys Familia in the eighth. Goodwin, Severino and Harper each had his first steal of the season. The Nationals, including Harper, also were aggressive on the basepaths against the Mets during spring training.
“Matz was worried about going out there and throwing with conviction today,” Callaway said. “So maybe it was a little tougher to pay attention to the running game.”
Matz said the steals were not a concern.
“It was fine,” he said. “None of them scored, so it was fine.”
(Taylor did score after stealing third base in the fifth inning.)
The Mets have given up nine steals and have caught nobody in seven games. Last year, they ranked fifth worst in caught-stealing percentage (22 percent).
“We’re aware of all those things,” Callaway said. “We’ll continue to work on that part of our game.”
n Extra bases
Righthander Zack Wheeler was strong in his first game for Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday, allowing one run and three hits in five innings. He walked a batter and struck out six. “It sounded like he pitched really well. That’s very encouraging,” Callaway said. “I’m glad he went out there and threw the ball over the plate. Felt like he was really aggressive in the zone, so that’s really good.” . . . The Mets have not announced who will start Wednesday, their first time needing a fifth starter . . . Brandon Nimmo recorded his first and the team’s second steal of the season Saturday. Jay Bruce has the other . . . Righthander Jacob Rhame recorded his first major-league hold Saturday, retiring the only batter he faced (former Met Matt Reynolds) in the eighth inning.
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