Veteran Mets not getting caught up in 0-4 start: ‘Know we’re better than that’

On one side of the clubhouse hours before Tuesday’s game was rained out, a few veterans faced off in a game of pool.

On the other side, several players were shooting baskets at a hoop that Francisco Lindor has helped popularize.

If fans were tense, players were loose.

Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor looks out of the dugout during the eighth inning of their loss to the Tigers. Noah K. Murray-NY Post

A mostly veteran Mets club is used to the fickle nature of baseball. Teams go through runs and ruts.

The fact the Mets have begun slowly — still searching for their first win in Game 5 of the season, a search that will be extended at least an extra day — has been noticed and not appreciated, but there was not yet a trace of panic.

“I’m sure nobody’s happy,” Adam Ottavino said before a Mets-Tigers game at Citi Field was called because of an unrelenting storm. “But at the same time, there are a lot of baseball games, so I don’t think you can worry about it too much. You got to forget about it.”

This is the sixth time in the organization’s history it lost the first four games of its season and the first since 2005 — when the Mets actually finished 83-79. The Mets dropped at least the first four games of each season from 1962-64, which all were 100-loss years.

A bad start does not always bode poorly, as demonstrated by the 2023, 0-4 Phillies (who rose to the NLCS) and 2021, 0-4 Braves (who won the World Series).

But after a disappointing 2023 season that led to the firing of Buck Showalter and a regime change, the Mets wanted to begin the David Stearns/Carlos Mendoza era on a better foot — or at least with a win.

Instead, the offense has been largely nonexistent and has scored one or zero runs in three of the first four games.

The starting pitching has been underwhelming with the exception of Sean Manaea. The defense — which was thought to be a strong suit — has faltered, and the bullpen could not compensate for the defensive miscues in Monday’s loss.

Every area of the Mets has disappointed in late March and very early April.

“You hate to go through it. You hate to see it, especially the way we’re playing,” Mendoza said. “They know — they know we’re better than that. But at the same time, it’s not the first time that they [have gone] through it. It just happened to be the first four games of the season.

“Pretty confident that the guys that we got in that room will turn it around pretty soon.”

But not immediately, with the rain battering much of the Northeast Tuesday and expected to continue into Wednesday. The Mets may have to wait until Thursday to again play the Tigers, a team they are not scheduled to see for the rest of the season, and thus makeup days would be challenging.

Mets relief pitcher Michael Tonkin reacts in the 10th inning of the Mets’ loss to the Tigers on Monday. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

This Mets team should be used to the ups and downs.

The age of the average Mets batter through four games was 29.7, the second-oldest in MLB in the span. The age of the average Mets pitcher through four games was 31.8, also the second-oldest.

Maybe younger teams would have a harder time with a slow start, but veteran leaders such as Lindor, Pete Alonso and Brandon Nimmo have been here before.

“We’re leaning on everybody,” said first-year Met but fourth-year major leaguer Zack Short. “It’s not like we’re down in the dumps, but obviously there’s a sense of urgency. You gotta get out to a decent start in April or things can kind of spiral.

DJ Stewart has struggled out of the gate for the Mets. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

“But there’s a lot of veterans in this clubhouse who have gone through a lot worse. … We’re going to get one.”

Showalter’s ’23 Mets won their first game and jumped out to a 13-7 start before injuries and underperformance began spreading.

Short’s first three seasons were spent on Tigers clubs that all finished below .500.

The reserve infielder had seen a sense of acceptance of losing set in. The expectations for the Mets are higher, and thus he now sees a team that is not panicking but not happy, either.

“Last year we lost nine in a row in Detroit, and you don’t get down — that just makes it way worse,” Short said. “It’s not like you’re running away from reality. But it’s a new day. You got a new game.

“It’s tough to especially lose four in a row to start. But we win four in a row, we’re right back.”

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