Article courtesy of Di Como/MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. — At around 7:30 a.m. on Monday, Francisco Lindor came bursting through the Mets’ clubhouse, coffee in hand, screaming and yelling — “like, really loud,” as manager Luis Rojas recalled. The Mets were preparing for their first Grapefruit League game and Lindor’s unofficial debut with the team. He was amped. He wanted his teammates to be amped, too.
“[Everyone] was laughing, and somebody said, ‘Yeah, let’s go!’” Lindor said. “Usually it’s early, 7:30 in the morning, Spring Training, not everybody’s hyped up. It was good.”
This is the primary manner in which Lindor has impressed the Mets, barely a week into his time at camp. Monday may have been his initial chance to showcase his skills in a game — he went 0-for-2 in New York’s 2-0, seven-inning loss to the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium — but it was far from his first impact on the club. On the back fields, Lindor’s energy has been boundless. In the clubhouse, he has already become a leader.
If the Mets had any questions about the caliber of human they were receiving from the Indians in a six-player deal this winter, Lindor seems already to have justified the reputation he brought with him from Cleveland.
“The abilities, you expect what we’ve seen,” Rojas said. “But now his leadership skills, it’s been more than I expected, because he’s done it so early. … His outgoingness, that’s the thing that’s really impressed me the most. He’s done it in the best way you can imagine.”
Lindor’s verve has manifested itself in various ways. There is the superficial — his shock of blue hair; his flashy, personalized New Balance cleats; his Eddie Murphy “Coming to America” jacket; and all the other things that draw eyeballs to him. In those ways, Lindor came to the Mets as advertised — a superstar. (His energy, he says, comes from a mixture of family and caffeine. Waking up next to his fiancée and daughter gives him an emotional lift. Starbucks does the rest.)
But there is also a subtleness to Lindor’s leadership. Nearly every morning since the start of camp, he has logged early work on the back fields, taking time in particular to school third baseman J.D. Davis on the finer parts of infield defense.
“You feed off of it right away,” Davis said. “Knowing that caliber of player, that type of player is wanting to get better, and is so focused on the details, it’s like, ‘Why aren’t you doing it?’ It comes with a little bit of a humble pie in that you should be getting extra work in, you should be working on this, you should be working on that.”
In those ways and others, Lindor has taken tangible steps to ingrain himself into the Mets’ world. Before the first official full-squad workout, he went around the clubhouse and asked each player to submit three songs for a playlist that booms throughout the Clover Park complex in Port St. Lucie. The resulting mix — rap, rock, reggaeton, country — is as diverse as the 75-man player pool itself.
“He’s getting to know them,” Rojas said. “He’s making sure that they know him back. So that’s been impressive.”
All of it begs the oft-asked question of whether this relationship might last. Again on Monday, Lindor said that he has not begun contract extension talks, although he and team president Sandy Alderson both believe they could begin imminently. If the Mets and Lindor can work out a deal, he has all the tools to be an outspoken leader in New York for the next decade or more
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