New York Mets manager Buck Showalter looks on during todayÕs...

New York Mets manager Buck Showalter looks on during todayÕs spring training game against the Washington Nationals, Sunday Feb. 26, 2023 in Port St. Lucie, FL. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

JUPITER, Fla. — The Mets’ preparing and accommodating of their World Baseball Classic-bound players will continue with something funky, potentially as soon as Tuesday: Eduardo Escobar in leftfield.

Escobar, a third baseman, will play for Venezuela, which communicated to the Mets that it is interested in having him as an outfield option. Manager Buck Showalter will oblige by getting him action there, perhaps during a scrimmage on the practice fields.

“He wants to do it,” Showalter said. “Only in an emergency. Which means he’ll play.”

Escobar has started 28 games in left in the majors, but none since 2015.

Similarly, Puerto Rico pitching coach Ricky Bones (who is the Nationals’ bullpen coach and used to have that role with the Mets) recently chatted with Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner about their intentions with Edwin Diaz.

“What they would like to do, and if it matched up with what we want him to do,” Showalter said about the discussion.

What did Bones have in mind, exactly?

“They know what we’re thinking now,” Showalter said. “It’s tough. You get there and Edwin loves his country and wants to do what’s best, and then all of a sudden they want him to pitch back-to-back-to-back in early March. Shouldn’t happen.”

Showalter doesn’t love that so many Mets — more than one-third of their projected Opening Day roster — are scheduled to leave camp next Monday to participate in the WBC. But he is tolerating it.

To make sure the players are ready, he is playing the position players in two out of every three exhibition games instead of the usual early camp rate of one out of two.

“It gives me some [pause],” Showalter said. “I don’t really like when you change things. But I’d rather them be ready physically as much as they can . . . I worry about it some, though. These guys are pushing. They’re pushing.”

Pitching plans

Justin Verlander will make his Mets spring training debut Saturday during a visit to the Marlins. Max Scherzer will make his second Grapefruit League start Friday against the Nationals at Clover Park.

They had been on the same schedule, both throwing Sunday. But now as they get broken up, Scherzer is a day ahead.

Is that a hint about Opening Day? Showalter didn’t want to tip his hand.

“We still have the ability to maneuver a lot of different ways, especially with the off days,” he said. “I got an idea of what we’re going to do if everything falls in place. I just hope it does.”

Extra bases

Lefthander David Peterson tossed two hitless innings in a 12-7 loss to the Cardinals on Monday. He struck out three and walked one . . . Ronny Mauricio homered for the second straight game . . . In discussing backup centerfield options, Showalter mentioned Mark Canha and Tommy Pham and later added: “You can throw a lot of guys into that mix, even a [Jeff] McNeil.”


FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.