WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Had the lockout not thrown a wrench into MLB’s plans, the Mets would have been playing their 22nd exhibition game of spring training on Saturday.
Instead, they kicked off their condensed Grapefruit League schedule Saturday night against the Nationals at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Though the shortened schedule will play a factor into how manager Buck Showalter uses the games, he is still only actually looking for one thing from them.
“Health,” Showalter said. “Just be ready. If you told me I could have one thing, I’d have our players available on Opening Day. The rest of those things are track record-related. You trust them.”
The Mets’ original Grapefruit League schedule had them playing 30 games, but with the lockout bleeding into the start of spring training, that number has been cut to 15, with a shorter runway of workouts before games started.
“There’s some things we do a little differently, but not going faster,” Showalter said. “The finish line’s a lot faster.”
Luis Guillorme, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith and Tomas Nido were the only expected big leaguers who played Saturday. Showalter said, however, that he will lean on his veteran-laden roster to make sure they get the right amount of work before Opening Day on April 7.
“It’s not a perfect world,” Showalter said. “We can create at-bats, which we will do, whether it’s intrasquad, our farm system’s right across the hallway so to speak. We can create those. I think we’re going to try to get the first week under our belt and then start individually talking to them. Understand that more is not always better. If you want to just get a pure number [of at-bats] they had last year, we can get there, but at what price?”
Carlos Carrasco, who underwent surgery in October to remove a bone fragment from his right elbow, threw two innings of live batting practice on Friday and appeared to come through it OK.
“I asked the trainers before I left — so far, so good,” Showalter said.
Max Scherzer, Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso worked out with the Mets at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches but did not play in the game.
“Just so much easier, they live real close to here,” Showalter said. “Anytime you can stay off 95, stay off 95.”
Chris Bassit and Taijuan Walker threw live batting practice Saturday afternoon back at Clover Park. … The Mets made another cut, optioning LHP Thomas Szapucki to minor league camp. Szapucki threw two scoreless innings Friday in an intrasquad game.