Mets manager Terry Collins stopped short of calling it the beginning of an infield makeover, but his actions on Friday sent a clearer message.
For the third straight game, the surging Wilmer Flores started at third base. And for the second time in three games, the slumping Jose Reyes began the night on the bench.
“As long as he’s swinging the way he’s swinging, you’ve got to get him in there,” Collins said of Flores, who went 1-for-3 before being part of a double switch.
Collins left himself plenty of wiggle room, refusing to commit to making Flores the regular third baseman. Nevertheless, it could prove to be the first move in the reshuffling of the infield.
Top prospect Amed Rosario has excelled while playing shortstop for Triple-A Las Vegas. In a 17-game hitting streak that ended Thursday, Rosario had a .364/.395/.584 slash line, three homers, two triples, four doubles and 18 RBIs.
Despite his numbers, club officials insist that he needs more seasoning. Still, his promotion appears to be an eventuality, especially given that only about a week remains before teams can promote top prospects without allowing them to qualify for super-2 status in arbitration.
Rosario immediately would be the Mets’ best defensive infielder. Club officials have indicated that he’d be ticketed for shortstop, forcing Asdrubal Cabrera to move to another spot.
Reyes raised his average to a season-high .208 with a two-hit game on May 25. In six games since, he’s 3-for-28, including a streak of 15 straight at-bats without a hit. Reyes, who is approaching his 34th birthday, has watched his average nosedive back to .193.
Of the 80 players in the big leagues this season who have played at least 50 games and made at least 200 plate appearances, Reyes ranks third to last in OPS (.576). He’s ahead of only Dansby Swanson (Braves) and Alcides Escobar (Royals).
“He’s a pro,” Collins said. “He understands.”
Flores, on the other hand, has merited more playing time. Entering Friday, his .377 average since May 1 ranks third highest in baseball among players with at least 60 plate appearances.
Always a significant threat against lefties, Flores has made good on his longtime insistence that he also could thump righties if given the chance. Against righthanded pitching, Flores is 20-for-his-last-51 with two homers and 10 RBIs.
Yoenis Cespedes continued working out in Florida, but Collins gave no indication that the injured outfielder has started a running program. Cespedes is trying to overcome a setback — a sore quadriceps — suffered in his only rehab game . . . Righthander Robert Gsellman will start on Saturday and remain in the rotation for one more outing before he’s shifted to the bullpen. General manager Sandy Alderson had said that Gsellman would be shifted into a relief role after Saturday’s start against the Pirates, but with a June 10 doubleheader creating a need for an extra rotation arm, Collins said Gsellman will start one extra time . . . Steven Matz and Seth Lugo are scheduled to make their final minor-league rehab starts on Saturday.