Terry Collins is challenged with a new task: managing down time
The Mets find themselves in an unusual and somewhat unexpected position of having five full days off before the start of the World Series as they wait for their opponent to be decided in the American League.
The Royals and Blue Jays will play Game 6 of their American League Championship Series on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium, with Kansas City leading Toronto 3-2 in their best of seven series.
Extended rest could be read multiple ways for the Mets, both positively and negatively.
On the one hand, it affords people who are suffering from injuries necessary rest to heal in time for the World Series. It also allows the Mets to align their rotation as they deem necessary, as opposed to either Toronto or Kansas City who can’t yet think that far ahead.
It also helps to re-energize the club, get them rest at home during normal hours, which could help them be fresh for the grind and pressures of the World Series.
“We got a couple guys that got a little banged up in Chicago, so I told them let’s use an extra day, to make sure to give you some extra rest so that when Saturday comes and we start the live pitching, everybody’s ready,” manager Terry Collins said on Friday at Citi Field.
But there’s also a down side to the extended layoff.
The extra rest could result in rust, and it could also spoil the momentum the Mets had during their first nine playoff games, during which they went 7-2 and have won five in a row as well.
“it is what it is,” Kelly Johnson said about the rest.
For Collins, he is now challenged with getting his team rested and healthy as well as keeping them sharp and ready for Tuesday night, wherever they end up.
But likely Johnson, Collins knows there’s really nothing they can do about the layoff. He even sought advice from his mentor, Jim Leyland, about how to manage the club with this extended down time.
“The general response I got, there’s nothing you can do about it,” Collins said. “No matter how hard you try, pipe in live noise, try to have simulated games. [Jim Leyland] told me one time they brought in the instructional league team up to play, and he said guys go through the motions.”
As part of that, Collins said on Friday during their informal workout at Citi Field that everyone is expected to be at the ballpark on Saturday and Sunday for a mandatory and more formal workout, reminiscent of their days in February and March as they prepare for the season.
“It’s better off having them come out and do their normal routines and try to have them face some live pitching if you can, which they’re going to [Saturday] and Sunday,” Collins explained.
Before the playoffs began, the Mets dealt with an extended layoff between the 162nd game and the first game of the NLDS against the Dodgers.
“The last week after we clinched in Cincinnati, we were trying to give guys rest and giving them days off, we started in the playoffs and they played great, so we’re going to go with that,” Collins said.
Before the playoffs began, Michael Cuddyer spoke about the merit of the downtime, but also the importance of taking the time on the field during workouts seriously.
“We play 162 games in 180 days, so you aren’t used to days off like that,” Cuddyer explained earlier this month. “As far as how to stay fresh, you go out and get your work in … and take that workout seriously. Not going through the motions.”
But whatever the Mets have done to this point, there’s no reason to fix what isn’t broken, even with the extra time off.