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Robinson Cano gets first hacks at No. 3 spot in Mets lineup Saturday vs. Yankees

Robinson Cano #24 of the Mets bats during

Robinson Cano #24 of the Mets bats during an intrasquad game at Citi Field on Thursday, July 16, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

It was only an exhibition, and it didn’t include all of the Mets’ regulars, but one aspect of their lineup Saturday against the Yankees was striking: Robinson Cano bats third.

Cano led the Mets with 58 starts in the No. 3 hole in 2019 as he struggled in his first year with the team, batting a career-low .256 with a .307 OBP and .428 slugging percentage.

Manager Luis Rojas said he is an option in that spot this year, too. Cano went 0-for-3 and played six innings at second base in the Mets’ 9-3 exhibition loss Saturday.

“Definitely features very well to hit third in the lineup,” Rojas said. “We don't have the lineup set for Opening Day yet, but he's a guy that features to be there in the middle of the lineup.”

Rojas noted that the same is true of Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis and “even (Jeff) McNeil,” who didn’t play Saturday. So the Mets have plenty of options behind their top two against the Yankees, who are strong candidates to be the regular top two: Brandon Nimmo and Pete Alonso.

If Cano doesn’t hit third, Rojas expects him to be somewhere in the middle.

“There’s a lot of versatility in the lineup, guys that can hit in different positions,” Rojas said. “We are getting a feel for each one, to hit in different spots. We've done it throughout camp and that's what we're doing today. He should be in the middle of the lineup. That's what we foresee.”

McNeil and Wilson Ramos were the starters missing from the exhibition lineup, but they are fine, Rojas said. McNeil is scheduled to play Sunday.

Adams is free

First baseman Matt Adams exercised his release clause in his minor-league contract with the Mets, Rojas said. He is a free agent.

With Alonso and Dominic Smith at the top of the first-base depth chart — and Cespedes and others looking for time at DH — Adams didn’t have an obvious path to playing time.

“It was a little bit of a surprise,” Rojas said. “Matt was definitely a great presence to have in camp.”

Adams has hit at least 20 homers each of the past three seasons.

Exhibitionists

Rick Porcello allowed the Yankees three runs and six hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked none, working up to 68 pitches. Two of the runs came when Clint Frazier walloped a slider into the second deck in leftfield.

“Definitely a pitch I’d like to have back,” Porcello said. “(For the) first time seeing guys in another uniform in a couple of months, felt pretty good.”

He said he didn’t know whether his next start would come in the regular season or if he would have a final preseason tuneup.

Four relievers checked off boxes on their preparedness lists: Jeurys Familia pitched more than one inning (zero hits in 1 2/3) and Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Edwin Diaz all pitched for a second day in a row.

“My velo(city) is better than I would’ve thought, to be honest with you,” said Betances, whose fastball sat around 93 mph but touched 96. “So I’m happy with that.”

Betances, who pitched in one game last year because of a series of injuries, added: “I’m 100%. I’m good. I’m ready to go.”

Alonso went 2-for-4.

Lowdown on Lowrie

Infielder Jed Lowrie, still dealing with ambiguous left leg issues, didn’t play Saturday and won’t play Sunday against the Yankees.

Rojas said Lowrie is still having trouble with baserunning and “some movements” on defense.

Extra bases

Jacob deGrom is still scheduled for a simulated game Sunday afternoon at Citi Field … Rojas sounded high on Chasen Shreve, a non-roster lefthanded reliever who has good career numbers against righthanded batters. “He’s definitely an interesting guy to pay attention to,” Rojas said, “and that we can bring in and he’ll probably give us a couple innings in any given game, especially early in the season.” … Alonso on his Gold Glove aspirations: “Hopefully, I can become an alchemist and turn my leather glove into gold.”

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