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Mets reach deal to keep spring training home in Port St. Lucie

The  Mets' Robinson Cano signs autographs during

The  Mets' Robinson Cano signs autographs during a spring training workout at First Data Field on eb. 18,2019, in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The Mets and their longtime spring training home are not breaking up.

The St. Lucie County commissioners approved — by a 5-0 vote Tuesday morning — a $57-million budget for the long-delayed renovations to First Data Field and the surrounding complex, where the Mets have spent their preseasons since 1988. The county is paying $55 million, the Mets $2 million.

The team’s relationship with the county, which owns the facility, briefly appeared tenuous last week, when St. Lucie asked for another $400,000. The Mets balked, threatening to look elsewhere for a base for its Class A minor-league affiliate. The team actually leaving for another Florida locale — a monumental process that would have taken several years — never appeared to be a serious option.

“We’re pleased with today’s outcome,” the Mets said in a statement. “Thanks to the St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners and the county legal team that worked with our team over the holiday. We are thankful for the continued support of our fans and the local businesses.”

In the revised plan, the county is sticking to about the same budget as when the parties initially agreed on upgrades — and the Mets staying through 2042 — in 2016. But due to rising construction costs, there will be fewer improvements than initially thought.

Renovations are expected to begin shortly after spring training ends.

Hech of a date

Adeiny Hechavarria, who worked out with the Mets for the first time Tuesday, said he had several other minor-league offers, but decided on the Mets’ after dinner with general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, assistant GM Allard Baird and manager Mickey Callaway last week.

They met in Miami — where Hechavarria lives, a more than two-hour drive from Port St. Lucie — last Thursday (Feb. 14).

“He was our valentine,” said Callaway, who attributed the grand effort for a potential bench player to Van Wagenen’s personal, pro-player touch as an ex-agent.

Said Hechavarria: “They told me about all the possibilities they had for me.”

What are those possibilities, exactly?

“We just told him the truth,” Callaway said. “We have a lot of depth at other positions around the field. But we weren't totally comfortable with where we were at backing [Amed] Rosario up if something happened . . . A great defensive shortstop — probably one of the top three in the league — and we're fortunate he chose us.”

Hechavarria has a $3-million salary if he is in the majors, with $1 million bonuses for 100 days and 150 days on the roster, a source said.

Extra bases

Rosario will mostly bat eighth this season, according to Callaway. “We protected him at times last year,” Callaway said, “and the gloves are off this year.” . . . Dominic Smith, who the Mets had experiment with leftfield last year, will play only first base this spring . . . Walker Lockett will start the Mets’ Grapefruit League opener Saturday against the Braves at First Data Field. Then it will be Jacob deGrom Sunday, Noah Syndergaard Monday and Zack Wheeler in one of their split-squad games Tuesday.

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