Mets Notebook: Omar Narvaez takes place of Francisco Alvarez in series finale vs. Dodgers

17 July 2023

Saturday night after the Mets fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the manager informed catcher Omar Narvaez that he would be in the lineup for Sunday’s series finale. Francisco Alvarez has turned an ankle rounding first base and though he remained in the game, the Mets thought it best to give their rookie sensation a break.

It marked only the second time in the month of July the catcher had been written into the starting lineup and only the 11th time since he returned from a calf strain in early June.

“I could have [played Alvarez] with the off day tomorrow,” said manager Buck Showalter. “But it was as much Omar’s needs as Francisco’s needs.”

Narvaez needs playing time to be able to establish consistency at the plate and to establish consistency with the pitching staff. But the club isn’t worried about the 31-year-old backstop. He understands that his job right now is to help support the development of Alvarez and play when needed. The team knows how hard he works to stay engaged with pitchers on days he doesn’t play.

“I’m watching the games and trying to be out there for them,” Narvaez told the Daily News. “I’m also trying to keep myself moving and having conversations with them. I’m throwing ideas and trying to keep having conversations and be engaged with them.”

Narvaez came to New York on a contract worth $15 million guaranteed over the next two seasons. That’s No. 1 catcher kind of money and the Mets initially thought he would be the No. 1 catcher, platooning with Tomas Nido while Alvarez developed in Triple-A.

But we all know now that the Mets have had to alter course with that plan. Nido is the catcher in Triple-A while Narvaez has been slotting in to spell Alvarez.

One can hardly blame the Mets for playing it like this, considering Alvarez has 17 homers this season, tied for the most among all rookie catchers and third among all rookies. The 21-year-old rookie played a huge role in the Mets’ six-game winning streak, going 10-for-22 with four home runs, eight RBI and a 1.500 OPS over that span.

Narvaez, meanwhile, has hit just .184 this season and he hasn’t hit much hard. However, he hasn’t had a chance to show his bat and that could change in the second half of the season.

“We haven’t really seen him on a consistent basis from the injury,” Showalter said. “But I think as he plays more and gets more consistent, we’ll see some of the guy that we were enthralled with. But it takes a while. Catching is like anything where there’s a tempo and a rhythm and a feel, especially when you know that you might not be in there tomorrow or the next day. I’d love to get where we could catch him a couple days.

“But Francisco has been good and we’d like to take advantage of it.”

Like Alvarez, Narvaez comes from Venezuela. The veteran catcher is happy to see the rookie catcher excelling on both sides of the ball, even if it means getting into fewer games. He’s worked with him on game calling, framing and footwork behind the plate. Narvaez has echoed what the other coaches have said about Alvarez, saying he’s an eager learner.

“He’s been learning a lot and he’s been one of those kids who is not afraid to ask questions and learn,” Narvaez said. “He’s doing pretty good.”

With the Mets still hanging on to hopes of going on a run over the next two weeks, Alvarez’s bat becomes crucial to the lineup. But Narvaez will get some games behind the plate. The Mets don’t want to overwhelm Alvarez and there have been some signs of the 21-year-old needing some breaks.

“I saw it the last day that we were in San Diego,” Showalter said. “I thought that he was dragging a little bit. That was the first day that I looked out there and said, OK, even though he’s 21, he’s a little worn.’ He plays the game at such a high energy level.”

Alvarez dropped a routine popup that day and the Mets lost the game and the series, 2-1.

“I want to be careful with him,” Showalter said.


The Mets will start right-hander Carlos Carrasco on Tuesday at home against the Chicago White Sox. Right-hander Justin Verlander will then pitch on regular rest Wednesday and left-hander Jose Quintana will make his 2023 debut Thursday against his former team.


Outfielder Starling Marte returned to the lineup after sitting out Saturday with a migraine.

Right-hander Sam Coonrod began a rehab assignment with Low-A St. Lucie on Sunday, throwing one inning as an opener against Jupiter. Coonrod faced four batters and threw 12 pitches, giving up one hit and striking out one.


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