The Mets’ Opening Day roster announcement Thursday included one big surprise: Shortstop prospect Andres Gimenez, 21, made the team.
This marks the second year in a row that the Mets are carrying a top minor-leaguer to start the season, after they did so with Pete Alonso last year. Unlike Alonso, though, Gimenez does not figure into the Mets’ everyday plans and instead joins utility infielders Luis Guillorme and Eduardo Nunez — who also won jobs during camp — on the bench.
In detailing his decision-making thought process, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen fisrt referenced Gimenez’s speed. Gimenez is the fastest of the Mets’ seven backup position players and stands to be the top option for when the Mets need to place a runner on second base to begin extra innings, a new rule for 2020.
“We’re proud of him and think that he can help us,” Van Wagenen said.
Among the other roster revelations: The Mets picked righthander Corey Oswalt, but not lefthanded prospect David Peterson or righthanded non-roster invitee Erasmo Ramirez.
That suggests that Oswalt will slot in as the Mets’ No. 5 starter in place of Marcus Stroman, who is out indefinitely because of a torn left calf muscle. In 19 games (12 starts) with the big-league team the past two seasons, Oswalt had a 6.43 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.
Van Wagenen did not commit to Oswalt joining the rotation, saying instead that it will be up to manager Luis Rojas to decide how to use the roster’s 14 pitchers.
“Luis has a 30-man roster at this point,” Van Wagenen said. “Luis won’t hesitate to use those guys and we’ll make the final decision on the last starting role in the coming days.”
Grabbing the open bullpen spots are righthanders Paul Sewald, Drew Smith and Hunter Strickland and lefthander Chasen Shreve.
The active roster starts with 30 players but decreases to 28 after two weeks and 26 after two more weeks.
Stroman, whom the Mets have not made available for an interview, made his first public comments regarding his injury on social media Thursday.
“Super minor setback,” he wrote. “Not even slightly worried. More time consuming than anything. Threw a 55 pitch bullpen on Monday and felt great. Only feel it when jogging and sprinting. However, must be able to run at full speed when competing. Thank you all for the prayers and well wishes!”
Asked about the grade/severity of Stroman's tear — a normal piece of information for a team to disclose — Van Wagenen laughed and said: "I don’t know what grade a tear is. I’ll leave that to the doctors to try to sort through that."
Jed Lowrie’s doctor visit was “inconclusive” regarding his left knee problems, Van Wagenen said. The Mets are seeking a second opinion … Van Wagenen on the Mets’ bullpen and closer: “We’re going to try to keep away from defined roles.” … There is “a strong possibility” Wilson Ramos plays Friday, according to the GM. Ramos missed three days of camp recently but returned Tuesday. … The Mets announced Thursday that “a special guest to be named” will throw out the first pitch Friday.