Francisco Lindor
Jason Getz | USA TODAY Sports

Buck Showalter had Francisco Lindor’s back.

The Mets manager’s defense of his star player after Lindor took a pitch to the face during the season-opening series in Washington won the shortstop over, MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds said during an interview with WFAN’s Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney. And he believes that is a big reason for Lindor’s bounce-back season so far.

“I’ll let you inside the curtain here: after the game, Francisco went into Buck’s office and told him he never had anyone stand up for him like that,” Reynolds said. “I’ve been watching Mets games from a distance, and if you watch closely, every time after a game, Francisco is sitting there talking to Buck.

“I asked Buck what they talk about, and he told me [Lindor] is the most curious player he’s ever been around. He wants to know why Buck made a certain move, or what he was thinking. He’s never had that opening to do that, and I think it’s changed his whole outlook.”

Lindor had a rough first season in New York. He struggled on the field after arriving via trade from the then-Indians and getting a massive contract. And he didn’t endear himself to Mets fans with the thumbs-down debacle. But he has five home runs and 17 RBI so far for the surging Mets, including a big two-run bomb in the epic Thursday night comeback against the Phillies.

“Don’t tell me a great coach or manager doesn’t matter, because that changes everything,” Reynolds said.

“He’s managed in New York all these years, and the first thing he said to Francisco after the lockout was, ‘You go play baseball, I’ll handle everything else. You go out and play shortstop, I’ll handle the media and New York for you. You spent last year trying to prove your contract – go back to being who you were, I’ll handle the rest.’ And that’s what we’re seeing.”

James Kratch can be reached at

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.