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Wilmer Flores off to rough start in field, at plate for Mets

Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores throws out Atlanta

Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores throws out Atlanta Braves second baseman Jace Peterson at first base on ground ball during the first inning of a baseball game on Saturday, April 11, 2015, in Atlanta. Credit: AP

Wilmer Flores has three hits this season -- exactly the same as his error count -- and he isn't happy about it. He would have preferred a smoother start to his tenure as the Mets' starting shortstop.

"I'm not very happy that it happened," Flores said on Sunday, the eve of the Mets' home opener. "But it's good that it happened."

Even in the best of circumstances, Flores will be subject to heavy scrutiny. He must hit enough for the Mets to stomach his glove. But at shortstop, every mistake will be magnified.

Just six games into the season, he already tasted that scrutiny, thanks to a handful of throws and at least one costly blown double play.

To make matters worse, he's hitting just .158.

However, the 23-year-old believes he's stood up to the pressure thus far, not a small consideration since it will be a constant as the experiment plays itself out.

"It's going to happen," Flores said. "It's good the way I'm feeling right now. Years before, I would have been out there still thinking about it. Right now, I just went out there. I didn't remember what happened."

In some ways, Flores has been put in an impossible situation. The Mets spent the offseason openly exploring other options at shortstop. They came away with nothing. That left the Mets with Flores, whose range issues had already prompted the team to move him off the position once before.

General manager Sandy Alderson has insisted Flores has the ability to fill the role capably for the Mets. In spring training, the GM was adamant about Flores getting his shot. But before Monday's home opener, he acknowledged that the experiment is off to a bumpy start.

"It hasn't been super," Alderson said. "He's made some good plays. He's made some mistakes ... Wilmer's one of those guys that doesn't let things bother him typically. And as long as we don't get to the point where we allow that to affect him than I think he'll be fine."

Some of the miscues, manager Terry Collins said, is the product of Flores simply "trying way too hard." The two have already discussed the subject.

"Obviously, you want to do what we're supposed to do," Flores said. "So, when it comes to a tough situation, that's when you've really got to calm down and breathe, slow the game down a little bit. You don't want to be rushed. That's when it kills you."

Flores' tendency to push too hard also has manifested itself at the plate, where hitting coach Kevin Long said Flores has chased far too many pitches out of the zone.

"I'm trying not to chase those pitches," said Flores, who doubled in Sunday's win over the Braves. "You're going to chase but I'm trying to minimize that. It is working. I am really emphasizing that."

Now, for the first time this season, Flores will play before a home crowd. His resolve will be tested once more. Will he hold it together if he has another two-error game? Will he bounce back if the home fans boo him for booting a ball? Will he hit?

The answers will go a long way in determining the fate of the Mets.

"We've got to get him going," Collins said. "He's not out there to be Andrelton Simmons. He's out there because he can swing that bat. And when he gets hot, it will look like a different team."

New York Sports