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SportsColumnistsDavid Lennon

Mets can't be asked to keep fighting through injuries indefinitely

Mets general manager Zack Scott during a spring

Mets general manager Zack Scott during a spring training workout on Feb. 24, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Zack Scott wore a convincing poker face Monday afternoon as he provided some rather upsetting details regarding the Mets’ dizzying array of injured players.

Instead of using this space to describe them all here, we’ll summarize it this way: Whatever you thought the initial timetables were, add another week or so. In some cases, maybe two or more.

The fact that the Mets’ general manager could calmly sit on Monday’s Zoom call while revealing that Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil had suffered "significant" hamstring injuries that should keep them out until "late June" without his expression changing in the slightest was no easy feat. Barely blinked. No flop sweat on his brow.

Problem was, he was bluffing. While admittedly working the phones lately in an effort to import some badly needed MLB-level talent, Scott obviously doesn’t want to project any signs of desperation. That’s not helpful for negotiations.

 

Monday’s lineup against the Rockies, however, told a very different story. It was a cry for help. What else can you say about starting James McCann, the $40 million catcher, at first base for the first time in his professional career, at any level? And also batting him third even though he was hitting .200 (21-for-105) with 31 strikeouts and a .508 OPS?

This is not meant as a knock on the struggling McCann, or even the Mets, who are stretching their imagination to stay afloat with a roster that’s leaking worse than the old Shea press box during a rain delay. But the McCann Gambit was the siren going off — and it got worse from there.

McCann himself was mostly fine. His first chance was a brilliant diving stop, and the experimental first-base debut proceeded without incident. McCann also homered in the seventh but struck out with the tying run at second in the ninth to seal the Mets’ fate in the 3-2 loss.

The Mets were virtually out of Mets before the night began, and lost yet another when Johneshwy Fargas exited with a shoulder sprain after slamming into the outfield wall in the fourth inning. Fargas is almost certainly headed to the IL, which would make him No. 18, as Scott already had indicated before the game that Jordan Yamamoto (shoulder) was being put on the IL Tuesday to make room for the activation of Jacob deGrom, a rare bit of good news on the injury front. At this rate, the Mets are going to have trouble fielding a team by the end of the week.

"There’s concern," Scott said. "I’m glad that we did invest some dollars in some free-agent depth, and already we’re now relying on some of those guys to be regulars, some of those guys are hurt as well, so now you’re going to another level of depth. And there’s only so many layers of depth that you can rely on."

Scott is a smart guy. He knows this isn’t sustainable, and getting shut down by the roadkill Rockies — who previously were 2-17 away from Coors — was another troubling sign. Shortly after Fargas left, owner Steve Cohen tweeted, "Anybody want to suit up?" at 8:52 p.m. Now Scott has to be feeling even more pressure to acquire some outside help to put in a Mets uniform.

"There’s a big need right now," he said. "And it’s harder to address your needs in May or early June than it is when everyone is in that mode. And then there’s the challenge of knowing you only have so many bullets to use in trades — you only have so many players you’re willing to trade, you only have so many dollars you’re willing to take on."

The Mets are running out of bodies, but the dollars shouldn’t be an issue. Not when Scott is backed by Cohen’s billions. It’s a good pile of chips to have, and the stakes are getting higher by the day.

New York Sports