No matter where he has gone since The Cry, Wilmer Flores has felt the love of Mets fans.
The 24-year-old infielder, who teared up on the field July 29 after hearing he had been traded to Milwaukee, was showered with chants of his name before seemingly every at-bat throughout the homestand that ended with a sweep of the Nationals. On the road, against the Marlins and Rays, Flores received rousing ovations from transplanted Mets fans.
Young campers showed their support Wednesday morning, giving Flores the loudest applause as he, Bobby Parnell and Michael Conforto were introduced at a baseball clinic in North Corona. Before the Mets' 3-0 win over the Rockies Wednesday night, fans gave him the warmest greeting of all when the lineups were announced.
The adoration for Flores is still palpable, even two weeks after The Cry.
"It's very special when the fans support you and they have respect for you and your team,'' said Flores, who went 0-for-2 with a walk. "That feels really good. It feels like they've got your back.''
Flores, it seems, has earned an indefinite grace period with Mets fans. He can make a mistake without sparking a chorus of boos. That was the case in the first inning Wednesday, when the second baseman could not hold onto Jose Reyes' softly hit line drive that chased him onto the outfield grass. The fans let out a reflexive groan that ended abruptly, as if they remembered they could not be upset at Flores.
That's not on Flores' mind while he's on the field.
"When I'm out there,'' Flores said, "I'm just thinking about my job and what I have to do.''
And he has done better since the trade that wasn't, as have the Mets, who have won 10 of 13 and extended their NL East lead to three games over the Nationals, who played a late game in Los Angeles.
Flores hit safely in seven of his previous nine games. He had four doubles, a walk-off home run versus Washington and a game-winning hit at Tampa Bay, contributing to a .323/.344/.548 slash line in 32 plate appearances. Through his first 93 games, he had a .249/.281/.378 slash line.
He, of course, had nowhere near this level of support from Mets fans until July 29.
"It makes you want to do it for them,'' Flores said. "You always want to do it, but I'm really motivated for them.''