BUFFALO — Amed Rosario was caught by surprise just over a week ago when his manager informed him he would be on the bench against most right-handed starting pitchers.
The Mets shortstop had struggled, but thought he proved in the second half of last season he deserved to play every day. That might have held true if the team lacked another option, but rookie Andres Gimenez’s emergence was difficult to ignore.
Now, with two weeks remaining in the regular season, Rosario says his focus is helping the Mets win in any capacity. But he admits he’s unsure about his future role within the organization.
“That’s a decision the team has to make for next year — it’s not mine,” Rosario said through an interpreter before the Mets lost to the Blue Jays, 3-2, on Saturday.
“I wouldn’t say it’s been necessarily difficult. I just think it’s been a challenging time that can happen to anybody in life, but it’s something you can definitely learn from.”
Rosario did his part Saturday. in what has become a rare start, he went 3-for-4, but did get picked off first base to end the game.
He turns 25 in November and will be arbitration eligible for the first time after this season. Once the organization’s top prospect, time may have expired on his chance to become the Mets’ long-term solution at shortstop.
The dynamic Gimenez has shown ability at the plate and defensively, and behind him the organization’s top prospect, Ronny Mauricio, lurks. There is also the possibility a new owner — the Wilpon and Katz families are in exclusive negotiations to sell the team to billionaire Steve Cohen — could trade for the electric Francisco Lindor and sign him long-term.
Rosario entered play with a disappointing .230/.250/.345 slash line this season, with three homers and 13 RBIs. He says he is open to learning the outfield, but team brass is yet to discuss the possibility with him since his demotion. The idea was broached last summer, and Rosario participated in limited outfield drills before the plan was shelved.
“For me, it’s been a tough couple of years,” Rosario said. “I think what’s benefited me is when people underestimate me, that is when I am able to take advantage of that and able to do what I want to do. I think sometimes a big problem is some people want me to shine the way they want me to shine. I think that plays to my advantage because I’m able to play my way.”
Rosario’s raw athleticism remains his prime asset, but his lack of plate discipline has largely confounded the Mets.
“His tools are unbelievable, he can do so many things,” manager Luis Rojas said. “Just watching the game from that angle [on the bench] and picking up some things and kind of slowing things down, he can always learn.”
The 22-year-old Gimenez is more polished, especially on defense, where he has been compared to former Mets magician Rey Ordonez. At the plate Gimenez has hit a respectable .287/.340/.426 with two homers and 10 RBIs. Gimenez is receiving the majority of starts, as Rojas fields the team he believes will give the Mets their best chance to win on a daily basis as they chase a postseason berth.
Rosario will remain under club control for another three seasons and says he hopes the Mets keep him.
“For me it would be tremendous to stay with the Mets,” Rosario said. “I think it’s a tremendous team and especially with the teammates that I have there are guys who have supported me and been helping me out throughout the years and I would love to be here long term.”
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