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Mets Morning News: Robinson Cano sets an example for Conforto, other young players

Your Sunday morning dose of New York Mets and MLB news, notes, and links.

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MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Meet the Mets

While Michael Conforto’s first inning two-run homer yesterday was certainly impressive, what excited Mickey Callaway and hitting coach Chili Davis even more was the ground ball he hit through the hole to the opposite side in his next at-bat with a runner in scoring position and two outs. That is the kind of situational hitting Davis is trying to promote and it’s been a big part of what Conforto is working on this spring.

Conforto is one of the many players in camp for whom Robinson Cano is a role model. Cano cites the many legendary veteran players he had around him as a Yankee as part of what shaped his winning mentality and what enables him to pay it forward as a Met.

Meanwhile, the 36-year-old Cano is doing everything he can to make sure his body holds up. He asked Mickey Callaway to play six games in a row to get used to life in the National League without a DH. So far, so good.

The Mets regulars will be pitching in minor league camp the next couple of days to avoid the Nationals seeing too much of them. Hector Santiago will pitch in major league camp today and Kyle Dowdy will pitch in major league camp tomorrow.

Brodie Van Wagenen and the Mets’ new regime told Dominic Smith they still believed in him, after last season’s woes. That helped him get his head in the right place and he took a more holistic approach to his offseason workouts, which included yoga and flexibility in addition to strength training.

What has perhaps helped Smith more than anything else though, is the CPAP mask he now wears to combat his sleep apnea. “It’s really a game changer,’’ he told the New York Post.

The Mets optioned Eric Hanhold to minor league camp. Luis Avilan seems like a near lock to make the bullpen at this point, which leaves Tyler Bashlor, Kyle Dowdy, Ryan O’Rourke, Tim Peterson, Hector Santiago, and Daniel Zamora all vying for the last spot.

Pete Alonso batted second in yesterday’s game. It’s something the Mets should consider doing more often to break up the lefties at the top of their lineup, writes Kevin Kernan.

This is the first spring training in which Seth Lugo is not stretching out as a starter. But starting games is still his ultimate goal.

Former Met Leroy Stanton was killed in a car crash in South Carolina on Wednesday; he was 72 years old. He was drafted by the Mets in 1965 and played parts of two seasons (1970-1971) as a Met before departing as part of the Nolan Ryan trade.

Around the National League East

Wilmer Difo is a critical player for the Nationals in his super utility role, writes Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post.

The Braves are expected to announce their Opening Day starter soon, who most expect will be Julio Teheran.

Bryce Harper sat out of yesterday’s spring training game against the Astros, saying he felt “a little sore” after getting hit by a pitch on his right ankle. But X-rays were negative and Harper is considered day-to-day.

Garrett Cooper won the Marlins starting right field job out of camp last season. But in the second game of the year, he was hit by a pitch on the wrist and ended up missing three months. He returned for just ten games in July before re-injuring the wrist again and ultimately needed surgery. Cooper has looked good for the Marlins so far this spring and he is hoping to turn things around in 2019.

Around Major League Baseball

With Major League Baseball and the players union continuing to have discussions, it’s possible Tony Clark and the MLPA may be able to negotiate away the three-batter minimum before it is set to take effect.

Emily Waldon of The Athletic spoke to 30 people, including minor league players, their families, and minor league staff about the impact that the meager minor league pay has on their lives. “If you come up in arms about fair wage or just being able to put food on the table for yourself, you’ll get released,” one minor league player said. “I know 100 guys that would wanna talk to you about this, but they won’t.”

The Cleveland Indians signed Carlos Gozalez to a minor league deal.

Yankees camp has been hit by a few injuries already this spring and prospect Estevan Florial is the latest victim of the injury bug. He suffered non-displaced right wrist fracture crashing into the center field wall.

Yesterday at Amazin’ Avenue

David Capobianco recapped yesterday’s spring training loss to the Marlins.

This Date in Mets History

The Mets signed free agent Timo Perez on St. Patrick’s Day 2000.