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SportsColumnistsMark Herrmann

Mets rewarded for keeping their trust in Wilmer Flores

New York Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores (4) unloads

New York Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores (4) unloads a three-run blast to leftfield in the bottom of the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday May 25, 2015 at Citi Field. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Like it or not, Mets fans, this is your team. These are your pitchers, these are your fielders, these are your batters (the term "hitters" might be an exaggeration on some days). In any case, Sandy Alderson said Monday that this is pretty much the way the club is going to look for the foreseeable future.

So barring the sort of deal that the general manager seems unlikely to make, meet the 2015 Mets, with all of their weaknesses and strengths. Here's an odd one, though: The spot that once looked like the biggest weakness might be one of the greatest strengths. Wilmer Flores hit the three-run home run Monday that won the game and gave the Mets some hope.

Yes, yes, fans have been hoping for a blockbuster deal that would land power-hitting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who is said to want to leave Colorado. Don't hold your breath. It is almost inconceivable that the Mets would give up the store for a player with a spotty health history while they still are waiting to see the extent of David Wright's spinal stenosis diagnosis. Besides, Alderson made it a point to say before Monday's 6-3 win over the Phillies, "I think realistically we have to get the job done with what we have, at least in the near term."

For now, the Mets have to "settle" for a shortstop who has more than three times as many home runs as Tulowitzki does this season (two). Days like Monday make you think Flores might not be such a bad option. His home run was his seventh, a total that leads his team and is tied for the major-league lead among shortstops.

"I'm going to tell you, as we move into this and you get to the 400-at-bat mark, this guy is going to have pretty impressive numbers," manager Terry Collins said. "He's a good hitter, he's got some power. We don't know how many home runs he is going to hit. I'm not concerned about that. I just know he's a good hitter."

Flores has shown other traits that are not so hot, such as making errors at the worst possible times. But he has not made any since May 15, and he literally saved the day Monday.

The Memorial Day matinee at Citi Field was one of those occasions that could have gone either way, and a loss would have felt like a disaster.

The Mets were coming off a brutal sweep in Pittsburgh in which they were repeatedly struck out and blown out. On Monday, they had blown leads of 1-0 and 3-2 and were tied at 3 in the sixth when Flores drilled Justin De Fratus' high fastball over the leftfield fence.

Before you knew it, there were smiles all around. Flores even flashed a few -- but only when he was talking about 42-year-old pitcher Bartolo Colon batting and running the bases. "He's awesome," said the 23-year-old Venezuelan infielder, who is generally impassive.

Stoicism served Flores well when he was a lightning rod for criticism, when shortstop seemed like the team's one big void. The young man found a way to keep his head up. "Defense is defense and offense is offense," Flores said. "You have to separate all those things. If you have a bad at-bat, you have to be ready for a ground ball.

"I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. Everyone knows what I can do. I know what I can do. I've just got to execute it, just got to do it."

Collins called Flores "a sharp guy" who "gets" the concept of leaving yesterday behind. Michael Cuddyer, who homered in the fourth and walked just before Flores' blast, said, "As a player, you put your work in each and every day. You trust in that process. He's doing that. He's putting the work in every single day, he's trusting in the process and results are coming."

Even more important, every day brings some hope that the Mets can trust in Flores.


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