DENVER — Francisco Alvarez earned a promotion.
Alvarez was moved up to the No. 2 spot in the batting order for the Mets’ series finale against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday afternoon at Coors Field and the 21-year-old rookie handled it somewhat well, going 1-for-5 with a three-run homer, his second in as many games.
The Mets had previously been hesitant to move him from the ninth spot because the team liked the pitches he was getting in that spot, plus with the lack of production from the bottom of the order it was helpful to have a big bat down there.
But he’s been the Mets’ best hitter over the last few weeks. He came into Sunday’s game riding a seven-game hitting streak, going 11-for-25 (.440) with six runs, two doubles, four home runs 10 RBI and a walk in those seven games. The catcher has hit five home runs over his last eight games and seven in his last 15, and he’s slashed .315/.383/.778 over that span.
“He’s done well in the nine-hole and today it fits for our club,” manager Buck Showalter said before the game.
He’s been a bright spot for the Mets this month, as have the offensive contributions of Brett Baty and Mark Vientos. The rookies have helped jumpstart a stagnant lineup and the hitting has been somewhat contagious. Even the bottom of the order produced Sunday in an 11-10 loss.
“Alvy continues to impress,” said center fielder Brandon Nimmo. Doing what he does and catching and taking that wear and tear, it’s really impressive. It’s really hard to do that from the catching perspective. So when you have somebody like that who can catch and produce offensively, that’s pretty rare in this game.”
But not all of the lineup maneuvering worked out.
Nimmo remained in the leadoff spot as a DH and Starling Marte was moved to center field for the first time this season. Showalter wanted Marte’s arm in center field and wanted to lighten the workload for Nimmo for a day.
“We need to have a little bit more arm in center field in this big of a ballpark,” Showalter said. “And a little more coverage in this big of a ballpark. Marte obviously throws the best of those three guys and it comes into play here.”
It was a rough day for Marte. In the fifth inning, he was playing in shallow right-center when Austin Wynns hit a fly ball to deep left-center. Marte covered a lot of ground but couldn’t run it down. The outfielder barely missed catching it on the run and it dropped to score two and give the Rockies a lead.
“He was playing over in right-center on the one, the ball was in right-center and we just couldn’t get to it.” Showalter said. “Neither fielder (could). But he’s our best option there, all things considered, other than Nim.”
Jeff McNeil was not in the lineup Sunday did come off the bench. The Mets sat him after the infielder/outfielder felt a twinge in his groin Saturday night in the second game of the series. The Mets are not concerned, but they felt that sitting him before the off day would help stop anything before it starts.
Call it precautionary or call it load management, but the Mets stand by their calls from Sunday afternoon.
“We got Jeff off the field and Nim, I’ll take that as a positive for us,” Showalter said.
Catcher Tomas Nido is expected to get a start behind the plate to spell Alvarez before the next series against the Philadelphia Phillies. McNeil is expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday when the club starts the series at Citi Field.
Right-hander Elieser Hernandez started a rehab assignment with Low-A St. Lucie on Sunday. A depth starter, Hernandez will likely start his season with Triple-A Syracuse and gives the Mets another option should they need a spot start.
Source: Berkshire mont