"Joey Bats" A Met

May 22, 2018 - 6:23 pm

© Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports


By BEN WALKER  AP Baseball Writer


 NEW YORK (AP) _ Former home run champ Jose Bautista is getting another chance to show he still has pop, this time with the New York Mets.
 Needing an extra outfielder, and preferably one who can tag left-handed pitchers, the Mets signed Bautista and immediately put him in the starting lineup Tuesday night against Miami.
 Bautista was set to bat fifth against Marlins lefty Caleb Smith and play left field. Two days after being cut by Atlanta, Bautista caught a late afternoon flight from Tampa, Florida, and arrived shortly before gametime.
 Bautista wasn't in the original starting lineup posted by the Mets. That changed once the 37-year-old nicknamed Joey Bats made it to Citi Field.
 ``This is something we felt we should try to do,'' general manager Sandy Alderson said.
 The Mets recently lost former Gold Glove center fielder Juan Lagares to a season-ending toe injury. Slugger Yoenis Cespedes is out with a strained right hip flexor, with no timetable for his return.
     ``The outfield position has been thin for us,'' Alderson said.
 Bautista signed for the $545,000 major league minimum. Alderson said the six-time All-Star wasn't considered merely a short-term fix, and said Bautista was told he wouldn't be playing every day.
 Along with the corner outfield spots, Bautista could possibly see action at third base and first base, too. Alderson said the newcomer was aware his performance would determine his playing time.
 Bautista played only third base in his short stint with Atlanta, starting at the spot eight times. He hit .143 (5 for 35) with two home runs and five RBIs, striking out 12 times.
     ``He's got excellent numbers against lefties,'' Alderson said.
 Bautista hit .203 with 23 homers and 65 RBIs in 157 games last season with Toronto, and went unsigned as a free agent during the winter. He struck out 170 times.
     ``A lot of guys have been striking out a ton,'' Alderson said.
 Bautista led the AL with 54 homers in 2010 and 43 in 2011. He has hit at least 20 home runs in each of the past eight seasons.
 Alderson said his assistant, former Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, was familiar with Bautista for their days in Toronto. Alderson said he'd heard a couple other teams were interested in signing Bautista.
     The Mets optioned infielder-outfielder Phillip Evans to Triple-A Las Vegas.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)