The decimation of the Mets lineup has kept Luis Rojas from facing a potentially unsettling decision.
Francisco Lindor has been a significant disappointment through the first 41 games of his Mets career, but when the other option is moving up a fringe player to hit in the No. 2 hole in the lineup, with his star shortstop hitting much lower, the manager gets an easy escape.
Such is life with names such as Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis on the injured list. Tuesday’s starting lineup included Brandon Drury, Cameron Maybin and Jose Peraza.
“If we had some of the guys who are not healthy right now in the lineup a lot of things could be different,” Rojas said before the Mets faced Colorado. “Francisco has been hitting as our two-hole, he’s hit leadoff sometimes and he’s hit third and that’s where we think he’s going to help the team score some runs. So we feel pretty good with him hitting second.”
Lindor carried a .189/.295/.277 slash line with three homers and nine RBIs into play. Boos have resurfaced at Citi Field, where fans have become impatient awaiting initial returns on the 10-year contract extension worth $341 million that Lindor signed before the season.
The absence of other big guns in the lineup has only underscored Lindor’s struggles. Over his last 16 games — following an 0-for-26 drought — he’s shown a whiff of improvement, with a .237/.324/.390 slash line. On the road he’s hitting only .143 this season.
“You have conversations with the player, like I’ve had conversations with Lindor, that’s when the concern level doesn’t get high because you see his confidence is there and he’s been through things like this in the past,” Rojas said. “He’s working really hard to get past this.”
If the offensive woes are eating at Lindor, it’s tough for teammates and staff to detect.
“He’s always smiling,” Johneshwy Fargas said. “He’s always happy. He’ll be all right. He’s a happy person.”
If Lindor had produced at a high level offensively for Cleveland last season, his struggles might not seem as pronounced. But Lindor produced at a .258/.335/.415 level during the 60-game sprint, which maybe should have served as a warning to the Mets.
Rojas suggested weeks ago that Lindor has become too pull-happy and still sees evidence that hasn’t changed.
“He’s trying to pull and I think he’s been a pull hitter and that is how he’s been successful, but I think he’s been forcing it a little bit,” Rojas said.
“We saw a couple of good games in Miami where he swung the bat good, and he was spraying the ball a little more rather than trying to get too big, pulling it. Now the last couple of days we see him back again not getting good swings behind some pitches, so it’s on and off lately, but the level of concern doesn’t increase when you talk to the player because he’s pretty confident and he works very hard and I know him and the hitting coaches have been to a point where he’s going to break through at some point.”
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