PORT ST. LUCIE – In a kind of dress rehearsal for the next week, in which he will address his entire team for the first time, Luis Rojas plans to speak to the Mets pitcher and catcher before the first training session in the spring.
The rookie manager will provide a blueprint for the camp – including a gradual advancement of the training to ensure that the players don't burn out too soon – but he may also consider the overall picture and expectations of the Mets as a unit in 2020 ,
"We expect to be a competitor," said Rojas at his first spring training press conference on Tuesday. “We know how all teams are prepared. We will be in a difficult division and we will face some difficult teams this year and we know that. We feel that we are built to win.
"We have a great list. We have great position players with versatility. We have a great starting rotation with pitchers with history, Cy Youngs, World Series winners and a bullpen with lots of history games as closers. So it's a team that's designed to win. At the moment, spring training is what keeps us moving and in the direction we want to go. It begins [Wednesday], "
Rojas, who was appointed to work just three weeks after Carlos Beltran's departure from Astros for his role in illegal trademark theft, will be familiar to most of the clubhouse. The 38-year-old Rojas not only acted as the team's quality control coach last season, but also worked in the Mets minor leagues for eight years, with many of these players under his command.
"Luis is a very open-minded guy," said Michael Conforto. "He's really big back and forth. He's very communicative and it's always been that way since I first played with him in the Low-A playoffs when I was called up."
Rojas was accused of leading a team in the postseason that rebounded to 86 victories in the second half of last season. The Mets have missed the playoffs in the past three years, despite being among the best in the major leagues, led by two-time defender of the NL Cy Young Award, Jacob deGrom.
The lineup consists of Pete Alonso, who set a rookie record in the Major League last season with 53 homers, and Jeff McNeil, who fought for the title most of the season before a dip in the off-season derailed him.
"I feel very comfortable where we are as a team," said Rojas. “I feel very comfortable when I lead the guys, and the main reason for that is the coaching team. They are such a great team of trainers and have worked in collaboration almost the entire off-season. You almost feel like we're connected. Thanks to our great team of trainers it is up to date. The relationship with the boys and getting to know the boys is really helpful. "
Jeremy Hefner (pitching trainer), Hensley Meulens (bank trainer), Tony DeFrancesco (first base trainer) and Brian Schneider (quality control) have just joined the group. Returning coaches include Chili Davis, Gary DiSarcina (third base coach) and Ricky Bones (bullpen coach).
These lieutenants will largely oversee Rojas' first spring training as a commander. It will take place against the backdrop of a renovated facility that will receive $ 57 million in improvements.
"[Wednesday] is a great day, ”said Rojas. “The biggest conversation takes place when the entire management team arrives at the facility, ie when we as an organization will speak as a whole. But [Wednesday] As an organization and with our pitchers and catchers, we will also talk about setting the tone and breaking new ground.
“This great facility, the great clubhouse and the new terrain we have on the field will give us more versatility to get our exercises going. I'm very glad about that. "