Mets Manager Buck Showalter had a lot to cover in his pregame press conference on Saturday ahead of their game with the Marlins. He spoke about the home debut for starting pitcher Kodai Senga, and then he talked about Mark Canha playing first base for the first time this season.
Kodai Senga made his Mets debut last Sunday against the Marlins, as he earned the victory in a 5-1 Mets win. He went 5 1/3 innings, and allowed one run (earned) on three hits and three walks, with eight strikeouts.
Showalter was asked about the challenges Senga will face battling a team for the second time already, and he said: “Actually, another good thing, there’s no surprise, everybody in the ballpark in Miami knew what he was going to try to throw,” referring to Senga’s “ghost fork” pitch.
Buck continued, “It was fun in a way in the spring when he pitched a couple times without it, and watching the other dugout, you know, because they’ve got the sheet of what he throws, even in spring, guys come up, they kept waiting for him to throw the split and he never did, but it was good to see him pitch without it, and I think he’s got a lot deeper repertoire than just that.
“It’s another factor today, second time someone’s going to see him, just the release point and a little more familiarity with him, but I find that, if you’re good, you’re good, and if you’re not, you’re not. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen somebody.
“We’ll see, it’s a little different condition today (compared to Miami, which has a dome). I was talking to him in spring about their spring training, I mean, it’s 50, 60 degrees just about the whole spring over there, I mean, they, you talk about going off on like, almost, a boot camp, their spring training is a little different than ours, from the standpoint of how long it is and the weather and the way it’s done. I actually kind of like it, I know there’s a team that actually goes off on an island, almost, I believe, but it’s a real team-building, get away from everything. I kind of like the way they do it, some of it.”
Mark Canha will play at first base on Saturday, and Showalter said of the decision to have the regular outfielder play there: “Mark’s a guy that, whatever the club needs, center field, right field, left field, designated hitter, first base, and he’s played it a lot. This is not something new and experimental, I mean, he’s played first base, and I lean a lot on (third base coach) Joey (Cora), did a lot of work in the spring because we knew this was coming, and just making sure what we had seen last year, this year, and what Oakland saw, and other teams he’s played for, that we’re seeing the same things, so it’s good to be able to give Pete (Alonso) a day. You know, he’ll never admit it, but he’s going to need a day here and there.
“That was one of the reasons where we made the decision with Darin (Ruf) because we felt like Mark could do it. (Ruf was released by the Mets on April 2) We still have Vogy (Daniel Vogelbach) who could go there, a number of people could go there if we need it.”
Alonso will be the designated hitter on Saturday afternoon, one day after he hit his 150th career home run.