SYRACUSE — Noah Syndergaard waved the white (and orange) flag.
Two days after criticizing the team’s decision to hold a workout in Syracuse before heading to Washington for Opening Day, Syndergaard played the good sport in front of 4,296 fans at the Carrier Dome as the Mets made the best of a trying travel situation.
He was the first of two pitchers to throw a bullpen off the makeshift mound — created by Citi Field head groundskeeper Bill Deacon, who traveled to Syracuse to prepare it — threw projectiles in the form of baseballs to screaming fans, and then made the ultimate peace offering: He ran around the field with a giant orange-and-white Syracuse flag before jogging to midfield and waving it in front of a delighted crowd.
Later, Syndergaard took to Instagram and posted a photo of himself waving the flag. "Thank you Scranton! I love you!," he jokingly posted in all capital letters.
“He’s great,” Mickey Callaway said. “I think he understands how special this was for all the fans and he wanted to do something special for them.”
The Mets, who according to Brandon Nimmo were stuck on a tarmac in Sarasota, Florida, Monday night for about 3 1/2 hours due to a mechanical issue, worked out for a little less than two hours. Syndergaard and Tim Peterson threw bullpens and Jed Lowrie hit off a tee, though it was clear immediately this was more of a goodwill mission to promote their new Triple-A affiliate in the area.
“We didn’t know what to expect coming down here, but when we got here and saw the stadium and saw the energy from the crowd, we loved it,” Dom Smith said. “We loved every second of it and we certainly enjoyed our time out there.”
Syndergaard wasn’t made available for comment, but Nimmo did say that in retrospect, he believes the unusual circumstances will end up helping the team.
“Now that it’s happened, I would say it was probably a better thing than actually leaving on time because a lot of guys got to express their opinions and decide how we wanted to approach the season,” he said of the flight. “We’re going to come out there and we’re going to be like bulldogs. We’re going to fight each day. It’s going to be a tough competition here in the NL East . . . I wouldn’t say you can win it in April, but you can lose it in April. We know each game is important and we’re not [only] looking toward the end.”
Still, this has been a whiplash-inducing few days for the Mets — something that Syndergaard took issue with on Sunday. They left Port St. Lucie Sunday afternoon and traveled three hours by bus to Sarasota for a Grapefruit League game against the Orioles on Monday, flew from Sarasota to Syracuse Monday night (they arrived around near midnight after the delay), worked out, and then headed to Washington Tuesday, all without a stop home. The Mets' first six regular-season games also will be on the road.
The Carrier Dome field — outfitted for football and lacrosse — wasn’t perfectly conducive to baseball activities, but it did allow for plenty of interaction. Seth Lugo and Nimmo were spotted signing autographs, players threw hats and balls into the stands at various intervals, and the entire team did a lap around the stadium, high-fiving fans. And then there was Syndergaard and his Baker Mayfield impression.
“I know from being a guy who was in Las Vegas and had to come back and forth that this is going to be a whole lot easier for those guys, so I’m really excited for them,” Nimmo said, referencing the Mets' old Triple-A affiliate. “I think this is going to help the health of those guys and the health of our team overall. I’m excited about it.”
Dowdy claimed by Texas. The Rangers claimed righthander Kyle Dowdy off waivers from the Mets, who had selected him in the Rule 5 Draft this winter. He had a 5.56 ERA in six spring games.