After the Mets sent rookie Brett Baty down to Triple-A Syracuse on Monday to figure out the reasons for his difficulties this season there, rather than in the majors, an extended opportunity is on the table for another struggling player, Mark Vientos, to prove himself.
Vientos, however, isn’t entirely focused on where that chance could lead him.
Instead, he is concentrating on the task at hand — to improve his play.
“Honestly, I’m just focused on showing up to the ballpark, getting better every day. Not really focused on where they’re gonna play me or what opportunity is going to come,” he said before the Mets’ 3-2 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday night.
“I’m ready for the opportunity. … It’s unfortunate that they sent Brett down, but I know that he’s gonna take it the right way, he’s gonna come back up and do his thing like he always does.”
Vientos once appeared to be a sign of hope for the lackluster Mets offense in May, because he was hitting .307 with a 1.000 OPS over 60 games for Triple-A Syracuse.
He has yet to come close to those numbers in the majors, however.
The 23-year-old designated hitter, who went 1-for-3 on Tuesday, is hitting .207 with a .558 OPS.
He has gone 4-for-22 (.182) in his past six games.
To get back to hitting as he did in the minors and take advantage of this audition for the remainder of the season, Vientos said he is focusing on the “little things” — showing up on time, having a good attitude, being a good teammate and working hard.
“Trying to learn throughout this process because I’ve been through this in the minor leagues where I’m not playing as well as I would like to,” Vientos said. “You gotta trust your work and trust that you’re gonna break through because it’s only a short period that this happens and then you get comfortable and then you start getting on that roll.”
Manager Buck Showalter said it’s “impossible” to be able to convince any young player, including Vientos, that every game won’t be a referendum on whether he can play in the majors.
“I think about the difference of what goes on compared to what they [the young players] thought,” Showalter said before the game. “Every little thing gets magnified. … The concentration level up here, every pitch, you can’t take anything off. There’s a scrutiny.
“But I wish we were that good to be able to keep that from happening. That’s going to happen. It’s really more about how you handle that. They won’t get really tired physically, they get tired mentally and emotionally. The scrutiny [is] constant every day.”
Vientos also couldn’t take his performance to the next level last season, after he moved from Triple-A to the majors as a September call-up.
He played 101 games in 2022 with Syracuse, hitting .280 with a .877 OPS. With the Mets, he hit .167 with a .546 OPS over 16 games.
Showalter has given Vientos reps at third base and, when Pete Alonso was out with an injury, at first base.
He played third base and hit seventh on Tuesday night.
He led off the eighth inning with a single that sparked a possible rally, but was ultimately left stranded on third base.
He also made three plays at third base, including a close-call tag on Yan Gomes in the top of the fifth inning.
“I want him to give himself a chance and he’s done a good job with that compared to probably when he first started because you gotta understand, these guys were on travel-ball team, hitting third and fourth, and everybody’s telling them how great they are with everything they do and they’re the best at every level and then all of a sudden, guys reach a level where they’re not the best,” Showalter said.
“There are other people that are really good, too.
“Sometimes you just gotta get out of their way. Let them figure it out and know who they are.”