LOS ANGELES — Francisco Lindor literally gave the double doors to his hotel room The Finger, leaving the Mets shortstop suddenly on the bench for Game 1 of this measuring stick series against the Dodgers.
Manager Buck Showalter said Lindor caught his right middle finger in the gates after the Mets arrived in town Wednesday night. Luis Guillorme started at shortstop Thursday.
Some thought Lindor might be available on the bench, but Showalter wouldn’t release team plans before the first pitch. Lindor said the swollen finger affected his throwing more than his striking. Showalter tried to find the silver lining.
“I was actually looking for a day to give it to him, so maybe it’s a blessing in disguise,” Showalter said at Dodger Stadium. “But he’s a bit disappointed, obviously he wanted to play tonight.
“We haven’t played a third of the season. I’m surprised something like this hasn’t happened before. It kind of accentuates how lucky he was, playing shortstop day in and day out.
Lindor entered Thursday in a tear, playing at a level worthy of a top player on a first-place team. It’s the first real heavy dose the Mets get from Lindor in games that matter.
Among his most notable accomplishments was a streak of at least one RBI in 10 consecutive games – Mike Piazza was the last Mets player to achieve this. But in his last 18 games, Lindor was 22 for 68 (.324) with three home runs, 24 RBIs and 10 walks.
Perhaps the best part for Lindor is that he wasn’t asked to carry the team. With players such as Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo and even utility Guillorme heavily involved, there is little pressure on Lindor to become a one-man show.
“It’s part of what we were trying to reiterate at the start of the season, I think,” Nimmo said. “Even though we only had a small part of spring training…on this team, it felt like not every guy needed to have it every day. It’s not about the shoulders of one person.
After four consecutive All-Star selections with Cleveland, the Mets shortstop was cleared last summer, and not by accident. The same sort of downtime is unlikely to be part of Lindor’s July itinerary.
Nimmo said the “energy” Lindor brings to the club every day is the most remarkable aspect of his game.
“It’s very positive and uplifting and he wants to make others better around him,” Nimmo said. “It’s an attribute that has to be learned. You take care of yourself first. You try to learn, ‘How can I stay?’ And then, as you mature as a player, you try to figure out, ‘How can I make others around me better.’ He really took on that role and that’s one thing I appreciate about him is how he cares about other teammates and drives the whole team forward, not just himself.