Mets’ Francisco Alvarez Works Hard Behind The Plate

Francisco Alvarez’s bat suggests he is ready for his shot in the big leagues, but the Mets would prefer a finished product.

The 21-year-old catcher arrived for spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla., theoretically in the mix for a spot on the Opening Day roster, in a catching equation that also includes Omar Narvaez and Tomas Nido.

However, it’s clear where Alvarez’s improvement must occur.

“We’re continuing to hammer out the receiving,” Mets farm director Kevin Howard said. “He’s way far ahead of where he was (two years ago). Those have been his biggest jumps, how good he has gotten in receiving.

“But we’re going to continue to help him improve that. The transfers between the catching and throwing are a big thing that he is trying to work on.”

Alvarez was called up last year for the final week of the regular season—and made the Wild Card Series roster—to give the Mets a righthanded bat off the bench and DH option.

He had returned in September after resting for three weeks with right ankle discomfort. After the season, he had surgery to remove a loose body from the ankle.

In 112 games for Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Syracuse, Alvarez hit .260/.374/.511 with 27 home runs and 70 walks.

“Offensively, I don’t know there is much that is keeping him out of the big leagues other than just being more consistent—not trying to win the whole season with one swing,” Howard said. “He tends to put a lot of pressure on himself and over-swing and try too hard sometimes.

“So just getting him to understand how good he is and how strong he is and stay within himself is really the only things mentally that we talk with him about offensively.”

Ultimately, Alvarez will have to mesh with a veteran rotation that includes six Cy Young Awards between Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

“If you talk to (Alvarez), that is what he cares about: His teammates wanting to throw to him,” Howard said. “Saying, ‘I want Francisco back there when I am pitching.’ I think that is his No. 1 focus.”

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