Wednesday's assignment was more a matter of circumstance. The Mets originally believed that they would be opposing left-hander Cole Hamels, before the Phillies scratched him due to illness. But given the option to plug Josh Thole into the lineup when he learned of the switch, Mets manager Terry Collins instead stuck with Shoppach.
"We brought him here to find out if he's going to be a fit," Collins said of Shoppach, who owns a .271 career average against left-handers and a .206 mark against righties. "I think he needs some playing time to find that out."
When the Mets traded for Shoppach earlier this month, Collins indicated that he would start behind the plate almost exclusively against left-handed pitchers. But Shoppach started against a right-hander Tuesday and finished 3-for-5 with a game-tying double and two-run home run, leading his manager to stick with the hot hand.
Then again, the Mets already knew that Shoppach could hit for power when they acquired him from the Red Sox; they were more interested in his game-calling abilities. Collins lauded those as well, saying that Shoppach has "done a very nice job of adapting to a staff that he's never worked with."
"I'd like to think it's going good," Shoppach said of his adjustment. "I've been working hard to get to know these guys. For me, it's more getting to know their personalities, understanding how they tick. They're all talented. Trying to learn what they do well is a challenge, but you can only do that in games. So I think it's important for me to get around and try to talk to these guys every day and try to figure out what they need from me on the mental side of it when we're out there in competition."