Mets manager Mickey Callaway spoke with reporters Wednesday afternoon for the first time since arrivnig at Spring Training.
Here are the takeaways...
Lessons he learned in 2018
Callaway had some notable gaffes in 2018 during what was his rookie season as manager, with the batting out of order issue and some bullpen issues (including one instance where a reliever didn't have enough time to warm up) among the most glaring.
Going into 2019, Callaway said he "learned a ton and experienced a ton," and also noted that he's happy bench coach Jim Riggleman is aboard.
"I think that's probably the most valuable thing is just going through it.," Callaway said about lessons learned "Going through the ups and downs as a manager. ... I think that the pressure is welcomed and I'm gonna be better suited to handle things on a daily basis because of my experience last year."
Is Juan Lagares the starting center fielder?
Callaway danced around this one a bit when asked is Lagares would be the guy in center.
"We have outfielders that can play multiple positions, and we have some really good defensive outfielders," he said. "I think that a lot of that is gonna depend on pitching that day. The good thing is that we have the ability to put guys in late in the game that are quality defenders. We have the ability to start guys that should be starting against the opposing starting pitcher and have great defense with the good bat."
Callaway is right that the Mets are deep and have some good options. But at present, with Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo expected to play nearly every day -- and Jeff McNeil being primarily an outfielder -- it certainly sounds like Lagares isn't being viewed as more than a bench piece at the moment.
What is he expecting from Yoenis Cespedes?
Omar Minaya said earlier this offseason that anything Cespedes provided this year would be gravy. Brodie Van Wagenen said a few weeks ago that he hoped Cespedes would act like a midseason addition. Callaway seems to be on the side of Minaya.
"I expect him at this point just to keep on working hard," Callaway said about Cespedes, noting that he's done a great job with his rehab. "He feels like he's on track, and that's all we're really worried about at this point."
Where will Jeff McNeil get the bulk of his reps?
Callaway is in lockstep with Van Wagenen when it comes to McNeil, with him saying that "Most of his at-bats -- if everything stays like it is today -- are gonna come in the outfield position. And he's very excited about that. ... we're gonna get to see him playing a lot out there this year."
Is Jason Vargas locked in as the fifth starter
"The way Vargas pitched at the end of the year when we got him on a regular schedule -- he's our fifth starter," Callaway said, adding that f Vargas had a regular spring training in 2018, "we would've seen a different Vargas the first half."