If the words of Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and National League Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso mean anything, the New York Mets ultimately made the right choice by hiring Luis Rojas as manager.
Feb 21, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets Quality Control coach Luis Rojas (60) poses for a photo on photo day at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
“Now we have Luis (Rojas) and I think we’re looking forward to that,” right-handed ace deGrom said Saturday at the Mets Fan Fest at Citi Field. “I had him in the minor leagues. Great guy, great manager. And last year being up here, fun to be around, communicates well with everybody, so we’re excited about that.
“Just knows the game of baseball really well,” added deGrom, a National League Cy Young winner the past two seasons. “Being around him last year, knows the game very well. … And you ask every guy in here who’s been around him — just a good baseball guy and a really good person.”
Rojas, who was the team’s quality control coach last year, was hired to be the Mets’ new manager on Thursday, replacing Carlos Beltran, who lost his job in the wake of the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
Rojas has been coaching and managing in the Mets organization since 2006. He interviewed for New York’s managerial vacancy after the team fired Mickey Callaway in October, but Beltran got the job.
“I think the stuff that happened with Carlos is very unfortunate,” said Alonso, who also appeared at the fan convention on Saturday. “He’s very knowledgeable about the game, but I think Luis is gonna do an absolutely excellent job.’’
Alonso, who led the major leagues in home runs with 53 in 2019 to break the rookie mark set by Aaron Judge (52) of the New York Yankees two years ago, also played for Rojas in the minors at Double-A Binghamton in 2017 and 2018.
“The dude never loses his cool,’’ said Alonso, an All-Star first baseman in 2019 who went on to bat .260 with 30 doubles and 120 RBIs. “He never hits the panic button. He’s always so prepared. He doesn’t just use his knowledge of the game, he uses his instincts very, very well. He’s paid his dues managing in the minor leagues, he’s paid his dues managing in the Dominican .’’
DeGrom, who went 11-8 with a 2.43 ERA in 32 starts, striking out an NL-best 255 in 204 innings for a third-place team in 2019, just wants the Mets to forget about their recent past and concentrate on the future while preparing for another spring training.
“Our main focus is on what we need to do,” he said.
—Field Level Media