Juan Lagares looks older and heavier, yet stronger and somehow quicker that I remember him being during previous spring trainings. The same can be said for Yoenis Cespedes, who at first glance doesn't appear in great shape, but is without question moving better and significantly more agile.
This was on display today during a drill run on the main field by Ruben Amaro Jr., whom the Mets hired over the winter to work with the team's outfielders and coach first base.
In the first round of the drill, Amaro tosses a baseball to one side of an outfielder who is fielding without a glove.
The outfielder moves quick to catch the ball barehanded, then is required to move to the opposite direction to catch a ball from Amaro. Again, the player catches it barehanded, after which Amaro lightly tosses a ball the other way, but short, so the outfielder has to lunge forward to make the grab, while holding the other two baseballs in his opposite hand.
In the second round, which Amaro has titled, "Oh, s---," he does the same thing, but throws the ball far behind the fielder, who is forced to charge back, looking over his shoulder, while making the catch with his glove like a wide receiver.
I was worried watching Michael Conforto, actually, because in each instance he reached with his surgically-repaired shoulder. However, he appeared fine, made all the grabs and based on his smile, seemed to enjoy himself.
Lagares was not phased by any of the above. I bet he could do this drill blind folded after being shook out of a deep sleep. He looks comfortable in his skin. I haven't seen him hit yet, which is obviously where he is most in need of improvement. He knows this, otherwise he would not have spent this offseason working one-on-one with J.D. Martinez's swing coach.
However, in the field, even in February, he looks as strong and smooth as ever. And while he may be a tad slower and bulkier, he also looks more in command of what he's doing, using his brain and experience as much as his speed and instincts.
By the way, it's weird seeing Amaro a bit older, a tad heavier than I remember ... and in uniform, as opposed to in a suit, clean shaven behind a microphone being GM of the Phillies.
I remember him as a player, but that was 25 years ago. And, as my body can also attest, things have a way of changing over time.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!