Ronny Mauricio of the Mets throws to first base against the Mariners...

Ronny Mauricio of the Mets throws to first base against the Mariners at Citi Field on Sept. 2. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The third-base phase of Ronny Mauricio’s audition has begun. 

Mauricio started at the hot corner — his first action there in his first month in the majors — in a 5-3 loss to the Reds on Friday, a curiosity that manager Buck Showalter was seeking to satisfy even before Brett Baty’s recent minor injury. 

In four chances, Mauricio made two plays, including a backhanded stop of a routine grounder and a long, strong throw to first. On the others, he committed a fielding error — Harrison Bader’s hard bouncer went off his shoulder — and allowed another grounder to go under his glove. 

“He’ll figure it out,” Showalter said. “He doesn’t panic.” 

Mauricio said through an interpreter of the error: “It caught me in between. I wasn’t sure whether to charge at it or to stay back and it just got me. With a couple more reps, working on that, I think I can make that play.” 

Before the game, Showalter declined to commit to Mauricio manning third for more than just the day. But between his comfort there and the Mets’ questions about that spot specifically heading into 2024, it seems likely that he will get additional chances to prove himself, including this weekend, when the Mets face a pair of lefthanded starters. 

“Everybody likes what they see of Ronny,” Showalter said. “Offense is going to come and go. Where can you impact things defensively? These looks are fleeting, so we want to take looks at it. But also, you try to solve the needs of everybody. It’s not just him.” 


Third base became the first new position for Mauricio, a shortstop most of his life, when he moved there in the Dominican Winter League last offseason. Even as the Mets tried him at second base and leftfield in the minors in recent months, third has remained the position he likes most — besides shortstop, of course. 

Francisco Lindor has shortstop locked down for most of the next decade, but Showalter said he wants to give Mauricio “a game or two” there anyway before the end of the season. 

“I feel personally that shortstop and third base are the two best positions that I can play,” Mauricio, 22, said. “I felt like it was seamless. I feel the same playing shortstop and playing third. It’s pretty similar to me.” 

How long does it take to get a sense of whether a player can be relied on to play a certain spot? 

“I’m not going to sit here and say, well, just one look,” Showalter said. “These people that come in and blurt something out after watching them take infield or play in one game — please. Nobody is that smart. I look at their ability to concentrate.” 

That psychological variable matters to general manager Billy Eppler, too, Showalter noted. 

Mauricio caught the attention of Mets decision-makers by forgetting how many outs there were several times in his first week in the majors. That and other elements, including pre-pitch preparedness on defense, earned him a talking-to from Showalter last weekend. 

“You can’t take anything off up here,” Showalter said. “The game is too fast, how quickly it can bite you.” 

After going 0-for-3 with a walk in Friday's loss, Mauricio is hitting .282 with a .743 OPS, three extra-base hits and four steals in four tries through 11 games. If that is at all indicative of the caliber of hitter he will be, the Mets will find somewhere to put him. 

Third base is about as winnable a spot as any. Baty, who is day-to-day with a mild left groin strain, is batting .212 on the season and even worse since returning to the majors Sept. 1. Mark Vientos has hit better lately (.827 OPS in 13 games since returning from the injured list), but the Mets aren’t sure if he is viable defensively at third. 

Hence trying Mauricio, who Showalter repeatedly said can handle himself at “all three” infield positions. He hadn’t been working out there lately but participated in pregame defensive drills Friday with infield coach Joey Cora. 

“At some point, infield is infield,” Showalter said. “Catch it and throw it.” 


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