With Dominic Smith’s quad injury keeping him out for most of the spring, veteran Adrian Gonzalez won the New York Mets’ first-base job by default.
Though he didn’t do much this spring to ease any worries about him inhabiting the position full time.
The 35-year-old lefty, whose better days with the San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers are long behind him, was brought on by the Mets in a one-year deal at the league minimum. It was a low-risk deal for New York, who clearly was not content with Smith after his six-week MLB debut at the end of the 2017 season after trading away Lucas Duda, a pending free agent, to the Tampa Bay Rays at the trade deadline.
While it was initially believed that Gonzalez was going to be the Mets’ starter at first regardless of the health of Smith, the youngster’s quad issues confirmed it with ample time before Opening Day.
Gonzalez though has struggled mightily this spring in orange and blue, batting just .191 (9-for-47) with a home run and RBI, leaving plenty to be desired from the position.
Luckily for the Mets, they have utility infielder Wilmer Flores, whose performance this exhibition season is forcing the Mets to find ways to put his bat in the lineup.
The fan-favorite and 26-year-old, who has primarily played second and third base during his five MLB seasons, is putting together a fine spring with a .333 average with three home runs and seven RBI in 45 at-bats. His ability to mash against left-handed pitchers already made him a valuable bat to come off the bench, but Gonzalez’s problems at the plate has opened a spot for Flores to do much more than that.
The Daily News’ Kristie Ackert reported on Wednesday that the Mets will platoon Flores at first with Gonzalez.
It’s likely that Flores will get those starts at first against lefty pitchers. In 394 career at-bats against southpaws, Flores is batting .274 with 25 home runs and 61 RBI. Compare that to a .255 mark with 32 round trippers and 141 RBI in almost 700 more at-bats against right-handers.
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