J.D. Martinez of the Los Angeles Dodgers circles the bases...

J.D. Martinez of the Los Angeles Dodgers circles the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the Rockies in the first inning at Coors Field on Sept. 28, 2023, in Denver. Credit: Getty Images / TNS/Matthew Stockman

A quick search of travel websites tells us there are no direct flights from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Cincinnati scheduled for Thursday. You would have to connect through Charlotte or Atlanta or some other airline hub.

J.D. Martinez needs to be on one of those flights.

Why West Palm Beach? It’s the closest major airport to the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St. Lucie. That’s where Martinez is knocking off the rust after signing on March 23.

Why Cincinnati? Because the Mets open a three-game series on the road against the Reds on Friday.

J.D. Martinez needs to be in the Mets’ lineup Friday night.

This isn’t an overreaction to the punchless Mets’ 0-4 start after their 5-0, 10-inning loss to the Tigers on Monday night at Citi Field. It’s a proper reaction.

The Mets, who were held to five hits, couldn’t even score with a ghost runner on second to start the bottom of the 10th.


The Mets need Martinez, the 36-year-old designated hitter who hit 33 homers in 113 games for the Dodgers last season, in their lineup as quickly as possible. They need that more than Martinez needs to get six or eight or 10 at-bats against minor-leaguers in the Florida sunshine.

We’ll give Martinez two more days, given that the weather in Flushing is supposed to be wet and cold during the next few days. If the worst forecasts come true, the Mets’ next game might not come until Friday.

Is Martinez going to be ready by Friday? Maybe. Maybe not. But the Mets, who started their third different cleanup hitter (Francisco Alvarez) and third different DH (DJ Stewart) in four games on Monday, have to put a dependable big bat behind Pete Alonso.

The Mets were one-hit on Opening Day, fell behind 7-2 on Saturday before scoring four late runs, and scored one run on Sunday.

One Met on the current roster has seen Martinez’s Port St. Lucie crash course in person. That would be righthander Adrian Houser, who faced Martinez six times — once a simulated inning — last Wednesday.

How’d Martinez look?

“Just watching him every at-bat, you can see him just getting closer and closer,” Houser, who is scheduled to make his Mets debut on Tuesday, told Newsday. “He’s picking up the ball a little bit better. Obviously wasn’t hitting the ball like he wanted to, probably, but he was making good contact and putting good swings on it. Had a good approach. You could just see it getting a little bit more, a little bit more, a little bit more each AB. By the time I left there, I think he was getting pretty close.”

Houser’s scouting report comes from an encounter four days after Martinez officially signed his one-year, $12 million contract and nine days before the Mets take the field at Great American Ball Park.

Manager Carlos Mendoza said on Monday that the Mets will talk in the next couple of days and decide whether to keep Martinez in Port St. Lucie or assign him to a minor-league team.

The option of bringing up Martinez without a minor-league pit stop was not mentioned. But when I asked Mendoza if that is a possibility, he said, “Everything’s on the table right now.”

How many swings does a hitter need to get ready, anyway? Martinez had to be working out on his own in hopes that he would sign eventually.

Brandon Nimmo, who had to race to get ready for Opening Day last season after suffering knee and ankle sprains in the middle of March, said he thinks about 50 at-bats is enough for a veteran hitter.

“You can’t just say, ‘Because the team needs me, I have to get back right away,’ ” Nimmo said. “But also, you start to learn, after you’ve been doing this for a while, that you’re not going to necessarily have it all figured out when you come back. I definitely trust that J.D. will be back as soon as he can, and that might not mean that he’s going to be 100% fully ready to go. But I trust his discernment on what’s good enough.”

What’s good enough is what’s best for the Mets. What’s best for the Mets is for Martinez to get on one of those flights on Thursday — even with a layover — and hope his bats make it all the way to Cincinnati, too.

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