Home Sports Lack of drama gives Mets reason to ‘believe’

Lack of drama gives Mets reason to ‘believe’

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The hurdles to a season remain significant, but it’s OK to recognize small victories while stressing the need to stay vigilant.

Spring training 2.0 reaches a midpoint Monday — which the Mets will denote by giving the players a day off from workouts — leaving a week and a half before the Braves arrive to hopefully commence this 60-game season.

The balance is fragile. One COVID-19 outbreak in any camp could put the season in jeopardy. Within the confines of the NL East, the Braves have already been enormously hit, with Freddie Freeman’s coronavirus symptoms and Nick Markakis’ subsequent decision to opt out from the season.

In Queens, there is at least the illusion of stability. Robinson Cano and Brad Brach remain absent from camp for reasons unexplained, but Mets brass has stayed consistent in providing a bright outlook for what could be a baseball season.

Maybe the lack of skepticism is a unified message the Mets wish to convey, either at the organizational or clubhouse level. Or it could be the Mets really believe this experiment has a chance to succeed.

Mets manager Luis Rojas
Mets manager Luis RojasCharles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“It definitely has gone a lot better than what I projected,” manager Luis Rojas said Sunday. “I shared at the beginning that we had a lot of challenges, and I was really looking forward to seeing how the guys were going to adopt that. They have done a tremendous job, so it’s going a lot better as far the guys adopting that routine, getting through the whole process of screening coming in and then getting on the field, in both dugouts, and also keeping the distancing and maintaining that health protocol throughout the day and have fun like they are having in games. I am really pleased with how it’s gone.”

The relative lack of drama has allowed the Mets to focus on their on-field developments, starting with Yoenis Cespedes’ recovery and the expectation he will ready for opening day. Jeff McNeil’s power display, Steven Matz’s curveball, Dellin Betances’ improved velocity and even Jed Lowrie sightings have created buzz.

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Which is to say baseball has been the biggest story at Citi Field over these first 10 days of workouts. Can the Mets get through the next 10, which are scheduled to include exhibition games against the Yankees on Saturday and Sunday?

“I truly believe that here with the Mets they are doing their best and it truly feels like a safe environment,” Marcus Stroman said. “I feel safe here. I feel fine, but I truly believe this is a situation where you can’t think three days down the road. You can’t think a week from now. You truly have to be in the moment and take it day by day because there’s so many different factors that come up each day and you just have to process it like that.”

A start to the regular season would bring further challenges, from team flights to hotels and locales to which players might disperse after games. The lack of a bubble setting, such as the NBA has implemented, means increased anxiety about an outbreak that would put the sport in peril. Then there are the increasing coronavirus cases in spots such as Florida, California, Texas and Arizona that threaten the possibility of those states welcoming professional sports, even in empty ballparks.

Such a big-picture view is daunting, but also very much beyond the players’ control. The Mets, like other teams, will continue concentrating on a list of safety protocols that just might improve their chances of a season.

“I can speak for what we’re doing here and it’s off the charts the in-depth, social distancing and how cautious we are with what we’re doing here,” Jake Marisnick said. “If every team is going about it the same way we are, I have pretty high confidence this season is going to complete.”

The Mets are halfway to the regular season. It’s a small victory to celebrate, just not in a group.

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