PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — For almost all of his baseball life, 6-3, 245-pound Pete Alonso has batted exactly where one would expect a slugging first baseman to bat: third or fourth, except once when he was 9 and was the leadoff guy for a day for “just some fun.”
That might change imminently. The Mets are considering batting Alonso second, Mickey Callaway said, in at least some games during the indefinite injury-induced absence of Jed Lowrie, their preferred two-hole hitter.
Alonso already has hit second in several Grapefruit League games, including the Mets’ 15-5 loss to the Cardinals on Friday. The Mets haven’t said Alonso is officially on the team, but instead of hedging against that likelihood, Callaway instead spoke openly about Alonso’s spot in the order.
“Alonso might be our second-best option there,” he said. “From what I’ve seen so far in the way he approaches his at-bats and his ability to cover the plate the right way and his willingness to go the other way at times, it puts him in a spot where we’d be comfortable hitting him in any part of the order at any time at this point.”
That works for Alonso, too.
“I’m just happy wherever I am in the lineup, but two-hole is kind of exciting,” he said. “Whatever Skip wants to do, I’m all for it.”
Callaway said he would be particularly inclined to put the righthanded-hitting Alonso in the two-hole when he “can’t stack the lefties” — Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Robinson Cano, maybe Jeff McNeil — at the top of the order.
That leaves several scenarios in which Alonso makes sense in the No. 2 spot: against a lefthanded starter, against a righthander who fares well against lefties, or against a team that has a strong southpaw in the bullpen.
“And just to balance out the lineup in general sometimes,” Callaway said.
Alonso’s presence batting second would be unusual but not unprecedented. Last year for Double-A Binghamton, he hit second in 10 games (posting a .316/.357/.658 slash line). Quality control coach Luis Rojas, the Binghamton manager at the time, said it was because the organization wanted Alonso to get as many at-bats as possible. When McNeil inserted himself into the prospect picture with a hot start, he became the No. 2 guy, pushing Alonso to third.
That is the entirety of Alonso’s experience hitting second. He said a move up wouldn’t change his approach.
“My responsibility is to go up there and sting it somewhere,” he said. “I can’t control whether they catch it or not or how far I hit it. The only thing I can do is go up there and square it up, whether I’m hitting second, leadoff, third, ninth, it doesn’t matter. I’m up there trying to hit it hard. That’s it.”
Notes & quotes: Shortstop prospect Ronny Mauricio, 17, went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly as the Mets’ DH. He was excited to start alongside Cano, a fellow Dominican and one of his idols. “He’s always been one of my favorites,” Mauricio said through an interpreter. “It’s an honor to be his teammate. I’m able to learn a lot from him.” . . . No team tried to add Devin Mesoraco, Adeiny Hechavarria or Rajai Davis via their upward mobility clauses, so they will stay with the Mets on minor-league deals . . . The Mets optioned relievers Tim Peterson, Tyler Bashlor and Daniel Zamora to minor-league camp. That leaves three relievers competing for one spot: Ryan O’Rourke, Kyle Dowdy and Hector Santiago, who got lit up Friday for five runs (seven hits, three walks) in three innings.