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Sunday baseball notes

Amazin’ resurgence by the Mets, with a little attention to detail from Buck Showalter

The Mets' Buck Showalter knew what it was like in New York, having managed the Yankees from 1992-95.Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

New Mets manager Buck Showalter reported to spring training in early February, lockout be damned, because he wanted to familiarize himself with the team’s complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

One of the first things he noticed was that the practice fields were confusingly numbered. What should have been Field 1 was Field 4.

That was changed before the players showed up.

When the Mets arrived at Citi Field, Showalter couldn’t find a convenient place to stand in the home dugout alongside bench coach Glenn Sherlock where they could see the entire field without peering around a post or through protective netting.


That was fixed within a few days.

Knowing that shortstop Francisco Lindor needed a reboot after a poor first season in New York, Showalter hired Joey Cora as his third base coach.

Cora has known Lindor since he was a Little League player in Puerto Rico and isn’t afraid to challenge him.

Add up enough little things and soon you have something big, which helps explain why the Mets got off to a 19-9 start under Showalter.

To be certain, the Mets have been successful because Max Scherzer has been a beast, Edwin Díaz is again a lockdown closer, and their lineup has been productive and balanced.

That owner Steve Cohen approved pushing the luxury tax payroll to $306.3 million made it happen.

But you can’t discount how Showalter has changed the tone in Queens. For the first time in a long time, the Mets have put the right pieces together.

After years of missteps and excuses, they’re a team focused on winning.

It was evident on Thursday night when the Mets scored seven runs in the top of the ninth inning to beat the Phillies, 8-7. They sent 11 batters to the plate and eight had hits.


“A night like tonight makes you realize what could be,” Showalter told reporters after the game.

Showalter, who turns 66 later this month, was fired by the Orioles in 2018. He waited three years for another job, doing television work to stay in the game.

Max Scherzer is off to a great start in a Mets uniform.Jessie Alcheh/Associated Press

The Mets were a perfect fit. Showalter managed the Yankees from 1992-95 and understands the expectations of the New York market and how to avoid the traps.

It helps that the new general manager is Billy Eppler, who was an assistant GM of the Yankees from 2004-15 and knows the terrain.

“We’ve talked about it,” Eppler told the Globe. “There are some similarities in our backgrounds and in our influences. Buck brings a standard in how he manages and that’s something he has clearly communicated.”

Eppler and Showalter worked under George Steinbrenner, so having an owner who is always in the news, as Cohen is, doesn’t faze them.

Cohen flexed his muscles this past week when he approved the decision to designate Robinson Cano for assignment and take a financial loss of $37.6 million.

That’s how committed Cohen is to immediate success.

“It’s his prerogative to do whatever he wants,” Showalter said. “Everything with Steve has been about baseball and what’s best for the team and the fans and the organization, not just that decision but every turn we’ve taken.”

What pleases Eppler is that the offense hasn’t been carried by one or two players.

“Our lineup works well together,” he said. “That sticks out and I’ve had scouts tell me that. On any given night somebody can deliver the big hit, whether it’s Francisco or [Pete] Alonso or [Jeff] McNeil or [Brandon] Nimmo or any of them.


“You can have all the structures in place for preparation but the players have to play and our guys have.”

It could get even better. What has been a strong rotation — a 3.05 ERA going into the weekend — should improve if Jacob deGrom returns from the injured list in the second half.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner is rehabilitating a shoulder injury. He has yet to start throwing but is healing.

“It’s been enjoyable being back in New York,” said Eppler, who pitched at UConn then started in pro ball as a scouting supervisor with the Rockies in 2000. “This is a fun team to be around.”


Red Sox should correct mistake with Bogaerts

The Red Sox should move quickly on sorting out Xander Bogaerts's contract situation.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Xander Bogaerts and Aaron Judge bet on themselves before the season when they turned down contract extensions. That’s paying off.

Bogaerts went into the weekend hitting .354 with a .904 OPS and is playing better defensively than he has in years. Judge is mashing, too, with nine homers and a 1.009 OPS.

Here’s the difference: Judge and the Yankees likely aren’t too far apart. Judge turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million extension that would start in 2023 and take him through his age-37 season. He remains steadfast in saying he wants to stay with the Yankees.

The Red Sox offered Bogaerts only one additional year at $30 million. That would take him only to his age-33 season. He made it clear the offer was a nonstarter.


You never start a negotiation with your best offer. But the offer the Sox started with was insulting. The Yankees read the room with Judge. The Sox did not with Bogaerts.

Bogaerts, who can opt out of the final three years of his contract after this season, has since taken the posture that business is business and he’ll see where free agency takes him.

Meanwhile, the team is playing terribly.

Sox ownership needs to correct this and make Bogaerts an offer he’ll accept or at the very least makes it clear they’re serious about keeping him. They need to change the mood around the team.

I was told at the All-Star Game last season that Bogaerts understands he’ll eventually have to move off shortstop. His bat will play anywhere and his attachment to the organization is such that a record-setting deal won’t be needed. But it must be a contract that recognizes his worth.

Mookie Betts was determined to maximize his value and took emotion out of it. Bogaerts has been with the Sox for nearly 13 years and has been an exemplary player and person. He has relationships with people in the organization that run deep.

Prodding out a player like Bogaerts would send a message to everybody in the organization that there is no loyalty on Jersey Street.

Fenway Park last hosted the All-Star Game back in 1999.MAEDA, Wendy GLOBE STAFF

A few other observations on the Red Sox:

▪ Within the last week, the Sox made their formal proposal to Major League Baseball to host the All-Star Game for the first time since 1999.


The game will be at Dodger Stadium this season, Seattle in 2023, and Philadelphia in 2026 as part of the festivities celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

That leaves 2024 or 2025. Word is that ‘25 may be the best fit.

▪ It wouldn’t have made sense to sign Kyle Schwarber for four years and $79 million as the Phillies did. But it’s clear that the Sox miss the presence of a veteran hitter whose patient approach rubbed off on the rest of the lineup.

Outfielder/first baseman Mark Canha, a 33-year-old on-base machine who took a two-year, $26.5 million deal with the Mets, could have filled that role.

▪ The Sox were walked off by every team in the AL East in April. That hadn’t happened to a team in a calendar month since the Cubs in May 2012. Chicago went on to finish 61-101.

▪ With the White Sox in town, it’s a good time to revisit the Chris Sale trade in 2016.

Ultimately, the White Sox didn’t do as well as they thought. Yoan Moncada, for all the unbridled hype when he was 20, became a fairly good third baseman but hasn’t turned out to be an All-Star.

Moncada hasn’t played this season because of a strained oblique but should return this coming week.

Another prospect, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, never panned out.

There is renewed hope for righthander Michael Kopech, who has a 1.17 ERA over five starts and 23 innings this season.

Kopech blew out his elbow in 2018, missed ‘19 rehabbing, then opted out of the ‘20 season. Kopech was used as a setup man last season then was switched back into the rotation in spring training.

His once triple-digit velocity has dropped into the mid-90s, but his curveball has been near-unhittable.

Sale was fantastic for the Red Sox from 2017-18 but is 11-12 with a 4.12 ERA over 34 starts in the four seasons since.

▪ Double A Portland had a good idea for Mother’s Day. Joan Krall will throw the first pitch to her daughter Katie, who is the development coach of the Sea Dogs.

Katie’s twin sister, Annie, will be on hand, too. She’s a television reporter in Green Bay, Wis.

▪ All the best to senior director of community and player relations Sarah Narracci, who left the Sox after 21 years. Sarah put a lot of smiles on thousands of faces over the years by connecting people with Sox players.

▪ The Pedro Martinez Foundation is bringing the “Feast With 45″ event back to Fenway Park on June 5. Join Pedro and 45 top chefs from the Boston area to benefit a good cause.

Go to pedromartinezfoundation.com for more information.


It’s getting Dusty in the Hall

Dusty Baker's Hall of Fame credentials are in no doubt.David J. Phillip/Associated Press

There was a good “only in baseball” moment when Dusty Baker won his 2,000th game on Tuesday night.

His shortstop for that game was 24-year-old rookie Jeremy Peña. Baker won his first game on April 6, 1993, when the Giants beat the Cardinals. The center fielder for St. Louis was Geronimo Peña, Jeremy’s father.

One of the themes after the game was that 2,000 victories clinched Baker’s spot in the Hall of Fame. Round numbers are fine but Baker had a Hall of Fame résumé long before he hit 2,000.

Baker will soon be in the top 10 all time in victories and every manager with more is in the Hall. That he has yet to win the World Series is incidental to the discussion.

Baker guided the Giants, Cubs, Reds, Nationals, and Astros to the playoffs and has won two pennants. There likely would have been a third if not for the Steve Bartman incident in 2003 with the Cubs.

Combine his managerial acumen with what was a long and productive playing career and his being the most successful Black manager, and Baker is clearly a person of historical significance in the game’s history.

At 72, Baker relates to players such as Jeremy Peña as well as he did as a 44-year-old rookie manager. He’s a Hall of Famer and the new Contemporary Baseball Era committee should make that official when it meets in 2023 to evaluate executives, managers, and umpires.

Extra bases

As he so often does, Joe Maddon told a great story when he was at Fenway this past week. Maddon’s late father, Joe, was an infantry soldier in World War II who returned home to Hazelton, Pa., and ran a plumbing business until his death in 2002. A few years ago, at an event in his hometown, Maddon was presented with the pocket-sized field Bible his father carried into battle all those years ago. “It’s in my equipment bag in the clubhouse,” he said. “I have it with me for every game.” Maddon’s mother, Beanie, is still going strong at 89 … Willie Mays turned 91 on Friday. The Say Hey Kid is believed to have played three games at Fenway Park during his career. The Giants played the Milwaukee Braves at Fenway in an exhibition game on April 10, 1955. Later that season, on May 23, Mays played in an exhibition against the Red Sox to benefit The Jimmy Fund. Mays also played in the 1961 All-Star Game at Fenway on July 21, going 1 for 3 with a walk. The game ended, 1-1, after nine innings and took 2 hours 27 minutes. Mays also was 1 for 28 with eight walks in eight games at Braves Field from 1951-52. But he only struck out four times … New Twins first baseman José Miranda is a cousin of actor, singer, playwright, and filmmaker Lin-Manuel Miranda. So another Miranda is in the room where it happens … Willie Calhoun, once a well-regarded prospect, is a career .241 hitter with a .707 OPS over parts of six seasons with the Rangers. When he was demoted to Triple A Round Rock this past week, Calhoun criticized the hitting coaches and said he hoped to get traded. “I don’t know if I’ll play another game in a Rangers uniform, and I let them know that,” he said. Calhoun disagrees with the launch-angle approach favored by hitting coach Tim Hyers (formerly of the Red Sox) and mocked the idea of “popup home runs.” Manager Chris Woodward said Calhoun should have kept his opinions private. “I think there’s a solution to this, but he’s got to be on board and maybe learn about some things,” Woodward said. Calhoun was 6 of 44 when he was sent down … Josh Reddick, now 35, signed with the Perth Heat of the Australian Baseball League. Reddick played 13 seasons in the majors and had 1,157 hits. Pretty good for a 17th-round draft pick in 2006 … One unexpected takeaway from seeing the Angels play in person: Andrew Velazquez is playing the heck out of shortstop. The 27-year-old, with his fifth team in five seasons, isn’t hitting but has five defensive runs saved, tied for the league lead at his position … Trevor Bauer, who was suspended two full seasons for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy, started selling $32.99 “Bring Bauer Back” T-shirts on his website a day later. Is that really necessary? … One of the best college baseball coaches in New England history was honored this past week. UConn-Avery Point, a junior college in Groton, Conn., named its field after Roger Bidwell. He won 1,007 games from 1982-2015 and guided six teams to the Division 2 JUCO World Series. Bidwell also sent 150 players to play at four-year schools. Three of his best players — Rajai Davis, John McDonald, and Pete Walker — went on to play in the majors. Davis now works in the commissioner’s office; McDonald is a field coordinator with the Guardians; and Walker is in his 11th season as pitching coach of the Blue Jays. That all three stayed in the game after their playing days ended speaks to what Bidwell taught them … Happy birthday to Adrian Gonzalez, who is 40. The Sox traded Anthony Rizzo and three prospects to the Padres on Dec. 6, 2010, to land Gonzalez then promptly signed him to a seven-year, $154 million contract. He lasted only 20 months in Boston, getting traded to the Dodgers in 2012. Gonzalez hit .321 with an .895 OPS in 282 games for the Sox but was a sour presence around the team.

Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.