Despite not reaching the top of the mountain yet by winning a World Series title, Mets manager Buck Showalter has put together a terrific resume. Winning Manager of the Year honors for four teams in four decades will do that. His good looks don’t hurt, either.
Showalter has built a reputation for himself over his 21-year managerial career that’s spanned 3,200-plus games. He’s proven to be a stickler for details, along with being a human encyclopedia for MLB’s rule book. The skipper is also looking for every edge and advantage that can help his squad.
The 2023 season provides different opportunities for that thanks to the new rule changes. The biggest of all is the pitch clock. We’ve already seen some hiccups during the first week of spring games, which is to be expected. However, the proof is in the pudding. There’s more of a rhythm to the game, which has been anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes shorter than usual.
SNY broadcasters Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling spent the first few innings of the Mets’ spring home opener on Saturday discussing potential loopholes to gain a tactical advantage. As it turns out, Showalter is leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of putting his players in the best position to succeed. One of those stones includes having the team’s best bat boys with them at all times.
Cohen appeared on the latest edition of Starkville, which is a baseball show from The Athletic that’s hosted by Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville. The Mets’ legendary play-by-play man talked about a ton of topics during his appearance. Obviously, one of the first involved the rule changes.
At the point of this interview, Cohen said he and his broadcast mates had done two games. He mentioned there is an adjustment period, but Cohen is definitely a fan of the pitch clock. The conversation turned to Showalter, with Stark saying he knows the veteran manager has “tricks up his sleeve”. Stark asked Cohen what he thinks some of those tricks might be, to which he said the following:
I think it’s mostly about maximizing the ability of guys to have enough time. For instance, we talked about Alonso. In that first spring game, there was a half-inning when he was in the field but due to bat first the next inning. When the third out was made, he sprinted full speed into the dugout so he’d have a little more time.
Buck has talked about taking his best bat boy on the road with him, which teams don’t generally do… because they’re more prepared to get the equipment into the hands of the players quicker so that they’re better able to take advantage of those 30 seconds that they have between batters to come to the plate. So, those are the kinds of things Buck thinks about because he operates on a level that most of us can never even dream of.
Yes, that’s definitely a level of detail I’m pretty certain only Buck is thinking about. But then again, who knows? Maybe he’s not.
Cohen said the two Mets hitters who have the most adjustments to make with the pitch clock are Mark Canha and Alonso. Canha has already adjusted quite well, but Alonso is still trying to find the best balance for what’ll work for him. Here’s what the broadcaster was referencing in the above answer regarding Alonso sprinting to the dugout:
Pete Alonso, sprinting into the new season. 🐻❄️ pic.twitter.com/17iGEIsl6W
— SNY Mets (@SNY_Mets) February 26, 2023
He ended up hitting a homer in that at-bat, so you can rest assured he’ll be sprinting to the dugout again whenever he has to lead off an inning again.
But there you have it. The Mets have spent in excess of $500 million on player contracts this winter. Ownership is making improvements around Citi Field, including a new scoreboard. Showalter also made it a point to let people know the Mets re-signed their replay guy. Investing in the team and improving their chances of success now probably now extends to the bat boys. If not yet, it’s only a matter of time.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.