Terry Collins thought about it, too. As Wilmer Flores was barreling down the third-base line, headed toward Braves catcher Tyler Flowers, Collins distinctly remembered how Flores ended his 2016 season.
Namely, with a neck to the side of A.J. Pierzynski’s shin guard.
“I did say, ‘Oh, don’t tell me we’re going to go through this again,’ ” Collins said. “He didn’t headfirst slide this time. That helped.”
Flores has learned a thing or two about plays at the plate, and on Monday, this particular play kicked off the scoring in a six-run seventh in the Mets’ 6-0 victory on Opening Day.
With one out, Flores stole second and chugged home on Asdrubal Cabrera’s single to center. Ender Inciarte made a strong throw home, but Flowers inexplicably played the ball behind the plate, allowing Flores to get his foot in. He was called out, but the ruling was overturned on replay.
“I knew I was safe,” Flores said. “It was obvious I was safe. He was back and I beat the throw. I knew Inciarte has a good arm, so I was just trying to get there. I was surprised that he was behind the plate. I don’t know the reason, but good for us.”
Said Lucas Duda: “That was huge. It kind of gave us a little bit of momentum. He was able to get his foot in there and great slide.”
For what it’s worth, Flores didn’t hesitate when he appeared to be headed for a collision. He thought about last year only enough to correct past mistakes. “I think I learned my lesson,” he said about his season-ending neck contusion. “I’m not going to head-slide anymore at home plate. I’m just going to go feet- first.”