Javier Baez gives a thumbs-up to New York and to Francisco Lindor, but was not ready to declare that his approval translates to a longer stay.
The Mets second baseman, who is endearing himself more with each swing to fans he had alienated, said he enjoys being in the city, where he has family, but that his future is uncertain.
“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Baez said before Wednesday’s 11-4 loss to the Cardinals when asked if he could envision signing a long-term pact here. “I don’t have that decision right now.”
Neither do the Mets, who have witnessed the drawbacks — the base-running errors, the 36 strikeouts in 135 plate appearances, even the notorious thumbs-down gesture that was a reaction to fans who had booed the team — but also the appeal. Baez has five multi-hit games in his past seven and is 21-for-47 (.447) with five home runs in his past 13 games.
The Mets acquired the middle infielder from the Cubs at the trade deadline, giving up 2020 first-round pick Pete Crow-Armstrong for an electric, if sometimes frustrating, 28-year-old. Seemingly each mistake is countered by a brilliant slide or extra-base hit.
Because Baez and Lindor were both injured, it took a few weeks for the close friends to form a potent double-play combination. Baez acknowledged partnering with his fellow Puerto Rican is appealing.
“We did it in the [World] Baseball Classic, and you all saw the combination and the communication we had,” Baez said. “So we’ll see. We’ll see what’s [the Mets’] plan.”
Regardless of his future, the Mets have seen a better Baez the longer he has been with the team. The free-swinger walked three times Tuesday.
“I think he’s heard different voices here talking to him about pitch selection,” manager Luis Rojas said. “You gotta give credit to him. He’s made a great adjustment.”
Several Mets — including Lindor, Baez, Tomas Nido, Seth Lugo, Edwin Diaz and bullpen coach Ricky Bones — wore No. 21 jerseys for the 20th annual Roberto Clemente Day. So, too, did Pete Alonso, this year’s Mets nominee for the Clemente award, and Carlos Carrasco, who won the award in 2019.
Alonso was honored before the game for his nomination for the award, which goes to the player who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”
Before the game, the Mets reinstated utility player Jose Peraza from the 10-day injured list and optioned outfielder Albert Almora Jr. to Triple-A Syracuse. Peraza had an RBI single in the seventh for the Mets’ final run. … Righty Corey Oswalt (right knee inflammation) made his second rehab appearance with Low-A St. Lucie, striking out one in a scoreless inning.