A shortstop position that unequivocally belonged to Amed Rosario a few weeks ago has turned into a job share of sorts for the Mets.
With the Mets desperate for a hot streak that will vault them into the postseason, manager Luis Rojas on Saturday started Andres Gimenez for a second straight night and refused to say the full-time job still belonged to Rosario.
“Right now in the stretch that we are in we’re going to say that Gimenez is getting back-to-back games because he has looked good against right-handed pitchers,” Rojas said before the Mets faced the Phillies at Citi Field. “Rosie looked good in his last game, but right now we’re using Gimenez as the hot hand.”
The rookie Gimenez entered 4-for-10 (.400) over his past four games with an at-bat, which included his first major league homer on Tuesday in Baltimore. He delivered two hits for the Mets on Friday and has been the team’s best defensive option at the position all season.
With three weeks remaining in the regular season and the Mets scrambling to remain in postseason contention, the time to worry about bruised feelings has passed. That also related to Rojas’ decision to play J.D. Davis as the DH on Saturday, with Dominic Smith at first base, squeezing out Pete Alonso from the starting lineup. Todd Frazier started at third base.
Alonso homered Wednesday and Thursday (including a walk-off in the 10th inning to beat the Yankees the latter day) but has been streaky at the plate and defensively, leaving Rojas to make a tough call.
“It is tough, we are a lineup that can produce runs and can take quality at-bats, and it’s been to the point that we have guys who are not in the lineup who can also be in the lineup,” Rojas said. “All the depth has given us the luxury of having a rotation where guys can come in and be the DH or play different positions or some versatility. Petey has played a lot of games too. It’s been a while since he had an off day at least to start. He will be ready off the bench. It is tough when the guys are doing so well. You want to keep it going.”
Rosario has struggled offensively with a .229/.243/.349 slash line this season after helping carry the Mets in the second half of 2019. But Rojas isn’t ready to write off Rosario, whom early in the season he declared was the Mets’ starting shortstop.
“Rosie’s approach right now, it seems that he’s climbing, but I stood behind saying that Rosie is our primary shortstop,” Rojas said. “That is what we’re doing right now, just basically giving both a chance. We can’t talk about the rest of the way. Right now we feel good about Gimenez starting.”
Rosario started against Yankees lefty J.A. Happ on Thursday and delivered a 3-for-4 performance. It raised his batting average at Citi Field to .180 for the season. But whether Rosario will start only against lefties remains to be seen.
“We have two more righties in this series and if I say that I am almost saying Amed is not going to play,” Rojas said. “We are playing the hot hand. Gimenez looked really good Friday, he has faced this kid [Spencer Howard] before, he looked good against him, so we went with the back to back days, both are going to get playing time.”