PORT ST. LUCIE – communication, preparation and attention to detail.
All three components came together this week in a small example of the difference Luis Rojas makes as Mets manager.
The Mets were working on shutdowns and relays. During the exercise, catcher Wilson Ramos made a suggestion. Rojas, whose buzzword is communication, listened.
Rojas told The Post: "Wilson said," Hey Luis, why don't we have the middle infielder throwing the ball off the line instead of the long jump. From the left field line, it is difficult to stretch out for this throw and then do a wipe tag. ""
Throwing in the air made it easier for Ramos to get the momentum to end the game. The change has been made.
This is just a small example in a camp filled with tight basic exercises, colorful defense mechanisms, jugs with runners, live striking exercises, secondary leads and much more.
The wheels are always turning for Rojas, who prepares like an NFL coach, takes his work home and then keeps the promise. His Mets open Saturday's spring training schedule with split squad games against the Marlins in Clover Park and the Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida.
"If you know you have talent, you have to say," OK, where's the benefit? "Rojas told The Post on Friday, explaining the basics of his philosophy." The best way is to prepare yourself according to the product you have. We know who we are now. Later we will prepare for our opponents, however we have our identity now. Our identity is the Mets Way. "
The new Mets Way was described in The Post two weeks ago. Rojas has explained exactly what this will mean.
"We want to go to a city and we want to be recognized," said Rojas. "Hey, the Mets do it: go to third place first, score first in doubles, score second in singles. You make the games. They are basically solid. "
"This is how our identity should always be," Rojas continued. “We are working very hard now to make this identity known. For me, it's communication. We want feedback from players and coaches. As we do things, there can be more and more ideas. "
Just like the cutoff game and Ramos’s suggestion.
Walk through the Mets clubhouse and the players rave about Rojas. Most of these Mets played for Rojas somewhere in the minor league or were last year when he was a quality control coach.
"He was the best minor league manager I had and I had a lot of good ones," said Michael Conforto. "Only open communication channels, you always felt good when you went to him and told him exactly what you felt. He wanted to hear your thoughts on certain pieces and he wanted to try to understand them instead of hearing them and telling you that you were wrong. He was tough for us at the same time. It has everything you expect from a manager. Its durability will be good in this market. "
Pete Alonso remarked: “I really got to know him in 2017 when I came to Double-A. I just love how smooth it is. There is no panic. Everything is calm, cool and collected. With every little movement he makes in the game, he always adapts to what the game gives him. There is always a plan. "
Veteran Robinson Cano added, "When I was injured last year, I had to spend time with him and he always has it together. His baseball knowledge is incredible."
You can feel the trust of the players in Rojas. You can tell by how serious they are doing their exercises, showing a sense of purpose, and still having fun.
Then that of catcher Tomas Nido: “Luis is always prepared. That is the greatest. When you are prepared, take care of everything. He lets us do the little things, so we're prepared and when it comes to games, we just run them. He knows what he wants to do. He is the right leader. "
The right leader at 38.
When the season starts and a good game is played, attention to detail and the collaboration of the ideas on display will have made a difference.