The Wilmer Flores Outfield Experiment will begin in Port St. Lucie this spring.
Wilmer Flores has gotten better with the bat every single year he’s been in the major leagues, and the Mets really want to keep his bat in the lineup as much as possible in 2018. His .795 OPS last season kind of demands it, to be honest.
It’s likely he’ll get some playing time all around the infield, specially at first or second base if either Adrian Gonzalez or Asdrubal Cabrera need a day off, but manager Mickey Callaway wants Flores to be in there even more frequently. That’s why the Mets are going to be giving him some reps in the outfield this spring.
According to Callaway, the 26-year-old Venezuelan will begin taking some practice at the corner positions of the outfield to help increase his versatility. Injuries happen, and with this team, it wouldn’t shock us to see any of our big outfielders go down or need a rest here or there (huge knock on wood).
With Michael Conforto not expected back until May, adding another body to the outfield that can actually play multiple positions is incredibly useful too. So it makes sense. I mean, they’ve already given Reyes a chance at the outfield, so why not Flores too?
Flores, on his part, is totally up to the challenge. Even though he doesn’t remember the last time he even attempted to be in the outfield, he told reporters on Monday that he’s looking forward to learning how to play out there – just like he did with first base.
This latest experiment will immediately call to most Mets fans’ minds similar past attempts at getting infielders off the dirt and on to the grass.
Daniel Murphy came up in 2008 as an outfielder basically, and played a couple of dozen games there in 2009 as well. That idea didn’t exactly work out, so he ended up being moved to the infield any way.
Lucas Duda also had his time in the outfield for the Amazin’s. He appeared in 234 games there over the span of five seasons before the Mets eventually realized that they should just keep him at first base instead.
Unlike these two examples though, this new chapter of Wilmer Flores comes after he’s already established himself in the major leagues as an infielder. Although he’s still really young (sometimes it’s hard to remember he’s 26), this could present new challenges for him if it doesn’t work out as well right off the bat. Flores isn’t fast by any metric – in fact, he might be one of the slowest players on the team. How is that going to translate to his outfield play? Well, that’s what Spring Training is for.