Wilmer Flores’ transition from starting shortstop to utilityman has been miserable. But he’s hoping that the homer he hit in the Mets’ 6-5 victory over the Giants on Saturday proves to be the start of a turnaround.
“It felt great,” said Flores, who hadn’t homered at Citi Field since July 31, two days after his tearful near-trade to the Brewers. “I ran the bases like it was a walk-off. It felt good. I finally started helping the team.”
Flores, who has started at all four infield positions, said the toughest part of his new role has been staying prepared to hit without consistent action. He is hitting .107.
His sixth-inning solo shot came after his throwing error in the third opened the door for the Giants to score three unearned runs.
“He’s really scuffling and it’s tearing him up,” manager Terry Collins said of Flores, who was in the lineup with David Wright getting a rest day. “This guy started for us last year and right now he’s not playing much. You talk about a guy who’s a little stressed out because he’s not pulling on his end . . .”
With shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and second baseman Neil Walker off to strong starts, Flores’ struggles have yet to impact the Mets. But Collins knows that the 24-year-old eventually will play a critical role.
For instance, the Mets are in a stretch of 17 straight games, which could open up time at third base with the Mets carefully managing Wright and his spinal stenosis.
“I’m definitely trying to keep my confidence out there at the plate and out there when I’m playing,” Flores said. “I think to do this job, you’ve got to be mentally stronger.”
Mets pitchers walked a season-high seven batters Saturday, one day after issuing six free passes. Said Collins: “It almost ended up killing us.” . . . The Mets improved to 13-3 when scoring first . . . Jeurys Familia is 8-for-8 in save opportunities . . . Wright is expected back in the lineup for Sunday’s series finale, though inclement weather could create issues at Citi Field.
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