PORT ST. LUCIE — Eric Chavez will be privy to plenty of analytical information as the Mets’ new hitting coach, but his goal is to reduce the clutter for his players.
“We want them going up to the plate with as little information as possible,” Chavez said Saturday. “We want their athletic ability to take over.”
After a season in which Mets players might have become overwhelmed by the volume of material presented to them before games, the old adage applies warning about the perils of trying to think and hit simultaneously.
The 44-year-old Chavez, a former standout third baseman, mostly with the Athletics, brings street cred to the job, along with intelligence. A former special assistant with the Angels to new Mets general manager Billy Eppler, Chavez will be entrusted with trying to resurrect an offense that averaged 3.93 runs per game, which ranked 27th in MLB.
Chili Davis and Tom Slater were fired as hitting coaches last May and replaced by Hugh Quattlebaum and Kevin Howard, both of whom were reassigned within the organization after the 2021 season. Chavez’s assistant will be Jeremy Barnes, who spent last season in player development.
“Most good teams get on base a lot,” Chavez said. “They swing at strikes and hit the ball pretty hard and we are going to focus on those kind of things. We are the filter. We want the information to filter and when the players do get here [after the lockout], just kind of building those relationships and understanding what makes each player tick and what they need to go out and perform.
“We’re here to help them. We don’t have the magic sauce. We’re going to use as much information as we can and hopefully players will get what they need and go out there and perform at their best.”
The Yankees hired Chavez as their assistant hitting coach in December, but that was with the stipulation he would be released from his contract if the Mets offered him a promotion. The Mets at the time were in the process of hiring Buck Showalter as manager and weren’t going to select a hitting coach until Eppler and Showalter could collaborate. Eppler had previously served as an assistant under Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.
“Honestly, the history of everybody, we all knew each other and worked together before,” said Chavez, who played for the Yankees in 2011-12. “So it was upfront and honest and direct right from the beginning … It was important for me to kind of get that, just communication — being honest and upfront about what the situation was.”
As a player, Chavez learned from several hitting coaches. He cited former Mets hitting coach Kevin Long (who served in that role for the Yankees during Chavez’s tenure) as a role model.
“Kevin Long was my guy,” Chavez said. “I probably wouldn’t be in the position I am today without him and the knowledge [he imparted]. I figured out a lot of things about hitting and I am very thankful to be in the position I am because of him.”
Chavez, who arrived at the Mets’ spring training complex in recent days, isn’t allowed to speak about players during the lockout. He has spent his early days here getting better acquainted with Showalter and the plan for once major league camp begins.
“It’s been actually extremely productive,” Chavez said. “Buck is very organized and detailed and for me, getting used to the area in general, the facilities and going through the schedule when the players are ready to come back and play and they are done with their deal, we will be ready to go.”