LOS ANGELES – Francisco Lindor gave the double doors in his hotel room The Finger, leaving the Mets abruptly off the bench in Game One of this measuring stick series against the Dodgers.
Manager Buck Showalter said Lindor grabbed his right middle finger in the doors after the Mets family arrived in town on Wednesday night. Luis Guillorme started at Shortstop on Thursday night.
There was some belief that Lindor might be available on the bench, but Showalter did not want to broadcast the team’s plans before first pitch. Lindor said the swelling of the finger was affecting his tossing more than hitting him. Showalter tried to find the silver lining.
“I was actually looking for a day to present to him, so maybe that would be a blessing in disguise,” Showalter said at Dodger Stadium. “But he’s kind of frustrated, obviously he wanted to play tonight.
“We didn’t play a third of the season. I’m amazed that nothing like this has happened before. It kind of underscores how lucky he is, kind of playing shortstop day in and day out.”
Lindor entered Thursday in tears, playing at a level befitting one of the best players in a top-ranked team. It’s the first real strong shot the Mets have received from Lindor at the important games.
Among his most visible achievements was at least one RBI streak in 10 consecutive games – Mike Piazza was the last Mets player to achieve it. But over the past 18 games, Lindor has been 22-for-68 (.324) with three guards, 24 RBIs and 10 runs.
Perhaps the best part for Lindor is that he was not asked to carry the team. With players like Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nemo and even utility worker Guillorme heavily involved, the pressure is hardly on Lindor to become a solo show.
“That’s part of what we were trying to replicate at the start of the season, I think,” Nimmo said. “Even though we only got that small part of spring training… In this team, I felt like not everyone has to get it every single day. It’s not on one person’s shoulders.”
After four consecutive All-Star picks with Cleveland, the Mets Shortstop closed last summer, not by accident. It’s unlikely that the same kind of layover will be part of a Lindor itinerary in July.
Nemo said the “energy” that Lindor brings every day to the club is the highlight of his game.
“It’s so positive and wonderful and he wants to make the others around him better,” said Nemo. “That’s a trait to learn. You take care of yourself first. You try to learn, ‘How do I survive in this place?’ And then as you mature as a player, you try to figure out, ‘How do I make others better around me?’ He really took that role and that’s something My appreciation in him is how he cares about his other teammates and gets the whole team going, not just himself.”