PORT ST. LUCIE — Pete Alonso’s more disciplined plate approach this spring was evident Tuesday, when he kept Cardinals pitchers working.
The slugging first baseman walked three times in the Mets’ 5-3 victory at Clover Park, continuing his solid start in the Grapefruit League. In his only official at-bat, Alonso struck out.
“That is one of the things that got me excited the most in the game, just watching him walk,” manager Luis Rojas said. “Pete has got to take what they give him.”
After a seesaw 2020 season, Alonso and hitting coach Chili Davis identified strike-zone discipline as an area for improvement this spring.
Last year, according to Rojas, pitchers could follow a blueprint with Alonso and often induced him to swing at bad pitches. In six games this spring, Alonso owns a 1.163 OPS.
“Three walks in spring training, those were just big at-bats, quality at-bats,” Rojas said. “And you’re sending the message about your discipline and letting everybody know they have to come to the zone. They have got to come to you. They have got to get you out.”
Upon further consideration, the Mets have decided to keep Carlos Carrasco away from the Grapefruit League, instead pitching in simulated games to build up his workload. Rojas had previously indicated the right-hander would join the rotation this week or early next.
Rojas said there aren’t any problems physically with Carrasco, who was late beginning workouts with the team after receiving a more thorough medical examination — he’s in remission from leukemia — and receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Carrasco pitched in a simulated game Monday.
“He came into camp a little later and we want to ramp him up doing the simulated games, I think it’s just a decision to have it more controlled with the pitch counts,” Rojas said, noting the same approach might be considered for Jacob deGrom. “We’ll have the chance later [in camp].”
Rojas said he doesn’t know where Carrasco will slot to open the season, but is confident he will be ready for his initial turn in the rotation.
Rojas’ plan to get the Mets’ pitchers swinging the bat this week has been delayed, as team brass holds out hope for the universal DH.
But from a preparation standpoint, Rojas says he is taking the approach there is “no chance” the DH will be implemented and he’s already begun speaking to pitchers about a potential plan for at-bats.
“I am just probably relaying a message that we have been saying since the offseason and if it works that way [with the DH approved], OK, but we are ready if it doesn’t,” Rojas said.