PHILADELPHIA — There’s always something special about MLB debuts.
The Mets’ Jose Bata, a 24-year-old right-handed pitcher with a 4.12 ERA in 98.1 minor league innings this year, got the start for the Mets on Sunday. Only six of those innings came in Triple-A, as he spent most of the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies. Like Brett Batey, Bata was rushed up the MLB roster due to injuries. Buck Showalter, just like he did when Betty debuted, tried to stay away from the baby before his big day.
“He has enough things on his mind today. They have enough going on without you going through Psych 101. Sometimes it’s good to move quickly with it before thinking too much about it. I found the most important thing was to stay out of their way.’
This season’s campaign line on MLB debuts aims to eliminate as many issues as possible. The Mets don’t like to put fresh-faced rookies in unfamiliar situations, and they preach the importance of treating it like any other day in their baseball odyssey. Because of that, the Mets decided to put Michael Perez at the plate for Batt’s debut. Perez never caught for Bath in the minors, but the two were teammates in Triple-A for a very short time, which is important to Showalter.
“Peres is a little familiar with Bout. Just their background as far as the minor leagues go. He knows about him and has seen him perform. He knows what he shows and does when he’s good and knows what he needs to do. It’s good to have a guy who has seen him before and also knows the opposition.”
Bato’s best serve is his replacement. Showalter puts a lot of emphasis on strong secondary pitching, which is a prerequisite for earning MLB batting orders.
“The big thing for me is don’t give big league hitters too much credit,” Showalter advised. “Sometimes we act as if this is some unattainable utopian level. I always tell them to trust themselves.”
Showalter believes there is no better learning curve in professional sports than going from the minor leagues to Shaw, especially for hitters going from facing minor league teams to the best of the best. Pitching is no walk in the park either.
“I’ve said it many times. The guys went from college football to pro NFL. I’m not going to start talking about things I don’t know, but LeBron is coming out of high school and playing in the NBA. I could go on. The boys come out of Stanford and compete in the Ryder Cup [team]. That’s a big leap. Nine-hole hitters hit third here in Triple-A.”
It was also unusual for Batto to be in the taxi squad to suddenly find himself in the main event.
“You go from being a cab team with a metal locker in the hallway to pitching,” Showalter laughed. “I hate those makeshift lockers in spring training.”
As usual, the day after a doubleheader, the Mets made a flurry of lineup changes on Sunday.
Rob Zastryzny, who made a one-inning cameo appearance Saturday after more than four years away from the big leagues, was sent back to Triple-A Syracuse. Left-hander Sam Clay was designated for assignment. Steven Nagasek, who bounced all season between Triple A and the Mets, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left elbow strain.
To fill the lefty void left by Zatryzhny and Clay, the Mets optioned Nate Fisher to Triple-A. Fisher has a 3.12 ERA in 43.1 innings at Triple-A this season and has never pitched in the major leagues. Showalter admitted he doesn’t know much about Fisher, but he does like one thing.
“I call it ‘good face.’ Some guys just have a good face,” Showalter said. “It is not a physical face, although he is a handsome young man. They are all someone’s sons. You should keep this in mind. Someone lives and dies with everything they do.”
Also, 2021 cult hero Joey Lucchesi made a rehab start with the St. Lucie Mets in Single-A. Tommy Hunter (back strain) is physically with the team but is not active yet as Showalter said he is still in pain.
Tyjuan Walker, whose back was locked in Atlanta during a game where he was supposed to cover first base, did some fielding practice (PFP) before Sunday’s game. His manager said that simulating what caused the injury was a good mental exercise.
“Taya had a really good day at work,” Showalter told reporters. “PFP, everything went really well. It was good. We’ll try to build on that by the end of the day, in the direction we’re headed. We’ll have to see how Tai feels in the morning.’
He also provided an update on Eduardo Escobar, who is on the injured list with a hamstring injury.
“Escobar is doing well. It is almost painless.”
NO FOG ZONE
Showalter doesn’t believe in old rituals when it comes to beginners.
“There is no hazing. There is no “carry my bag” or “go get dressed in the exercise room”. We don’t do that. I think it’s funny. I hate it when people do that. You know what usually happens? It’s because someone did it to them. What a great excuse to humiliate a young player. It’s really stupid.”