WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — In the right field corner of FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, fans lined up for photos with the World Series trophy. A large replica of that same trophy sat in the same area.
Those examples, as well as other World Series signage throughout the ballpark, might serve as a reminder. The Mets finished last season three games out of a wild card spot while the Nationals, their National League East rivals, reached the wild card and eventually won a championship.
“The motivation is just that this is a really, really tough division and whoever comes out of it is obviously going to have a great chance,” Brandon Nimmo said. “But there’s still another spot out there, too. ... Just playing in this division is going to get you playoff-ready. (The Nationals), they got hot and they played really, really well in the postseason, and they found a formula that worked.
“I think we could easily have done the same thing.”
Ramos’ offseason adjustment seems to be working
Wilson Ramos hammered the first pitch, but it barely went foul.
He demolished the next one, and it stayed fair.
The old baseball joke, per Nimmo, is that if a hitter smashed a ball that lands just foul, he’ll end up striking out. Ramos defied that.
“That’s really, really hard to back that up and hit another one,” Nimmo said.
In Monday’s 2-1 win over the Nationals, Ramos went 2-for-2 with that home run and a double. He’s off to a good start in spring training.
“It felt good,” he said. “I feel very excited today.”
He’s happy an offseason adjustment seems to be working. Over the last few months, Ramos has tried to stop “cutting” his swing, which he said led to a ton of ground balls. Instead, he’s “staying through the ball” in hopes of lifting more into the air.
Last season, Ramos had a 62.4 percent ground ball rate, which was the second-highest mark of any big-league season in his career. He hopes to lower that number.
Ramos said it took him about a month to become comfortable with the tweak in his swing. He’s still working on it in the batting cages to ensure he doesn’t revert back to his old ways.
“We didn’t necessarily ask for that,” manager Luis Rojas said. “He’s coming from a really good offensive year. He wanted to work really hard and come prepared to spring training physically and also in his game.”
On Monday, Ramos destroyed a couple baseballs and stung a third. The early results are positive.
“If you would’ve seen his batting practice today, you would’ve thought something like this would probably happen,” Nimmo said. “He was just launching balls out and you get in those grooves where you’re feeling really good with your swing.”
Peterson makes positive impression
The Mets’ starting rotation is almost set. Since December, it has seemed like either Rick Porcello or Michael Wacha will be the fifth starter behind Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz.
For the non-established arms, spring training will be about making an impression. David Peterson seemingly did so in his first outing, a two-inning start in which he allowed only a hit while striking out two.
“That was a really good outing today,” Rojas said. “Two innings, the velo was a tick higher (around 94 mph) than what we expected just from his previous history. I think that made everything play. His repertoire was playing. Changeup was really good, had a good touch for it. Threw it in any count. I like the angle on his fastball. It was good.”
The Mets drafted Peterson, a 6-foot-6 lefty, in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Last season, he notched a 4.19 ERA in 24 starts (116 innings) for Double-A Binghamton.
Lugo set for next bullpen
Seth Lugo (fractured pinkie toe) on Monday said he would throw his next bullpen on Wednesday. It will be his second since stubbing his toe in his hotel last week.
On Tuesday, Lugo will run through more agility work. He’s planning on doing some cutting, too.
Everything has gone well. Only one hitch, and it’s minor: The medical team gave Lugo a sole insert to keep his cleat from bending and hurting his toe, but Lugo removed it recently because it “was a little firm” and it began to bruise the bottom of his foot a tad.
Before throwing live batting practice, Lugo must do pitchers fielding practice to ensure he can get off the mound.
“I can pitch,” he said. “It’s just a matter of playing my position, too.”