PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Noah Syndergaard isn’t happy, and he wants everybody to know it.
After throwing three nondescript innings in a minor-league game as a final tuneup before the regular season, Syndergaard expressed his strong feelings regarding two topics: the Mets’ travel itinerary the next few days, which he doesn’t like, and Jacob deGrom’s lack of a contract extension, which he doesn’t understand.
First, the travel. The Mets left their spring training facility Sunday afternoon for a three-hour bus ride across the state to Sarasota, where they will play the Orioles on Monday in their Grapefruit League finale. On Monday night, the Mets will fly to Syracuse, the home of their new Triple-A affiliate, for a workout Tuesday. That night, they’ll fly to Washington, where they will open the season Thursday.
“I don’t know whose idea that was, but it’s not a smart one,” Syndergaard said. “It’s not conducive to winning ballgames, that much travel.
“I’m sure the amenities in Syracuse aren’t the best for a major league baseball team to go out there and have one last workout before the regular season starts. Those kind of decisions are above my pay grade.”
Other Mets “absolutely” feel similarly, Syndergaard said. They voiced their displeasure, “but it doesn’t really do much.”
Said manager Mickey Callaway: “Everybody is entitled to how they feel and what they think. I think going up to Syracuse is good for the fans.”
This season is Syracuse’s first as a Mets minor-league affiliate after the parent club bought the team in October 2017. As part of building a relationship with the community, the Mets scheduled a two-hour workout at the Carrier Dome, an indoor sports facility at Syracuse University.
It’s not uncommon for teams to visit an affiliate or another town before Opening Day. On Monday, for example, the Royals will play outside Omaha, Nebraska, while the Cardinals go to Memphis, Tennessee, the respective homes of their Triple-A teams. The Mets will just work out, though. Late March in upstate New York isn’t great for baseball.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Syndergaard said. “And we’re not even playing a game.”
He noted that the travel schedule contradicts what the Mets learned recently about health/nutrition/sleeping/generally taking care of themselves so they can perform at peak levels.
“From all the information and data and all the meetings we’ve had . . . I don’t think that’s the way to go,” Syndergaard said.
If he had his druthers, the Mets wouldn’t even necessarily go to New York City between Florida and Washington. But that would be preferred.
“You’d think we’d go to New York to get, as adults, our things, our affairs in order,” Syndergaard said. “But no. We’ve got to go to Syracuse first.
“Just being able to get acclimated and adjusted to my surroundings would be beneficial for all of us. It doesn’t even have to be New York. Just not Sarasota, then Syracuse.”
And then there was the deGrom issue. The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner has been negotiating a long-term contract with the Mets for most of spring training but has said he will cut off talks if a deal isn’t done by Opening Day. DeGrom said Saturday that he is getting less optimistic that he’ll find common ground with the team.
Syndergaard said he is surprised it’s taking this long.
“They should put all this fuss [to the side] and pay the man already,” he said, noting that aces Chris Sale and Justin Verlander recently got extensions. “Jake is the best pitcher in baseball right now. He deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want to keep him happy so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side, with the Mets.”
DeGrom will pitch Thursday against the Nationals, with Syndergaard going in game two Saturday, which he said he has been thinking about for two weeks — and had more time to mull on the bus to Sarasota.
“And on the plane to Syracuse,” Syndergaard said. “And on the plane back to D.C.”
Is he looking forward to visiting Syracuse, a place he has never been? “Not even the slightest bit,” he said. “It’s great. Can’t wait. Makes a lot of sense.”
He later said, “I don’t think that’s what championship teams do prior to the season.’’ As he left the Mets’ news conference room, he added, “Am I wrong?”