NEW YORK -- Regular batting-practice time came and went Monday afternoon with the Mets still lingering in their clubhouse. It was not until nearly a half-hour after their usual batting-practice time that the Mets began trickling out to the field, crowding around the cage and taking their swings. The starting position players did not begin hitting until even later.
Those adjustments took place as part of manager Terry Collins' effort to keep his starters fresh before home games. Concerned about an offense that entered Monday's play having scored three runs or fewer in 10 consecutive home games, Collins hoped to jumpstart his hitters by reducing the time between batting practice and the game's first pitch.
"It's a minor thing," Collins said. "We're kind of grasping at straws right now to see what works."
Typically, Mets starters hit before the reserves, taking their hacks between 4:30 and 5 p.m. ET prior to home games. That gives them more than two hours between the end of batting practice and the start of the game.
Contrast that to road games, when the Mets begin batting practice around 5:30 p.m. and do not finish until well after 6, giving their starters less than an hour to sit around the clubhouse and wait. Collins sees a correlation between those times and the fact that the Mets are averaging 3.54 runs per game at home this season and 4.67 on the road.
That split has been exacerbated recently, with the Mets stringing together their longest streak of games with three or fewer runs since 1988. But because Major League rules stipulate that the home team must take batting practice first, Collins was limited in the adjustments he could make.
Still, the manager figures even a minor tweak can only help.
"Does it make a difference? Probably not," Collins said. "We're just taking a shot."