PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — An MRI of Jed Lowrie’s left knee was negative, and the New York Mets said the infielder is likely to be ready for opening day even though he’s behind schedule.
“It’s nothing serious,” manager Mickey Callaway said Friday. “We’re going to progress slowly so that when he comes back to play he’s 100 percent.”
The 34-year-old Lowrie provides valuable depth because he can play second base, third base and shortstop. An 11-year veteran, he played 153 or more games in each of the last two seasons for Oakland.
New York envisions Lowrie getting regular playing time at multiple positions, useful to provide days off for 36-year-old Robinson Cano and 33-year-old Todd Frazier.
“That’s why we brought in depth. If something unfortunate happens, we’re covered,” Callaway said. “The guys we have in their 30s have played a lot of games in their 30s.
“Cano is going to play in a lot of games,” Callaway added. “He knows how to take care of himself. I’m not that concerned about it because of who we have in their 30s out there and the way they prepare.”
New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has worked out the math.
“Brodie has said if you have five infielders and four infield positions, that comes out to about 130 games apiece,” Callaway said.
Ahead of Saturday’s spring training opener against Atlanta, the Mets held a simulated game that featured players hitting off a pitching machine set at 50 feet and throwing 90 mph.
Jeff McNeil hit one of only two homers in the brief contest, a drive that landed at the top of the berm in right field. Non-roster outfielder Rymer Liriano had the other in the game’s second at-bat.
“The pitching machine was nice. It’s a nice drill because it speeds things up, and we get a lot of things done,” McNeil said.
Top prospect Pete Alonso doubled down the left-field line. Van Wagenen has said he will not start Alonso in the minors just to extend his free-agency eligibility by a year beyond the 2024-25 offseason.
Offseason acquisition Walker Lockett will start Saturday. The 24-year-old right-hander is a candidate to be the Mets’ sixth starter when injuries hit, along with left-hander Hector Santiago, also set to pitch against the Braves.
“It’s awesome. It’s exciting,” Lockett said. “New organization, and they’re giving me an opportunity. There’s nothing more that’s going to get you fired up than to play with guys like that behind you.”
NOTES: Cleon Jones, Art Shamsky and Ed Kranepool of the 1969 champion Mets were at camp. “That year, with Joe Namath running off the field and pointing his finger after winning the Super Bowl, Cleon catching that ball in the last out of the World Series and Willis Reed running on the court for Game 7 against the Lakers for the Knicks, those are icon moments in the history of sports in New York,” Shamsky said. … INF T.J. Rivera has taken a couple of days off from throwing. “I was full-go a couple of days ago, but I had a little soreness from the throwing just because I’ve lengthened it out a little bit,” said Rivera, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in 2017.
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