Mets Notes: Sean Manaea's haircut helping his pitching, Mark Vientos improving offensively

Here are the latest Mets notes as spring training rolls on...

'New haircut, new me'

Sean Manaea turned some heads earlier in the week by shaving his. Cutting off his luscious locks for the first time in four years and opting for a more clean-cut look with a nice fade on the side, Manaea pitched for the first time with his new-do on Saturday and the results spoke for themselves.

The 32-year-old pitched four scoreless innings against the St. Louis Cardinals, allowing two hits and three walks while striking out five – quite different from his first spring start against the Miami Marlins where he allowed three earned runs on seven hits in 2.2 innings with long hair.

So, naturally, all credit goes to the haircut, right?

“New haircut, new me so hopefully it keeps trending in this direction,” he said after the game.

But on a serious note, the drastic change in hairstyle actually did affect the left-hander while he was on the mound, from his vision to body temperature.

“So much easier,” Manaea said. “I don’t have hair in my eyes, [I felt] a little cooler. Overall, just felt a lot easier.”

After his velocity was down a tad in his first start, Manaea was consistently sitting in the 93 mph range on his fastball and touched 95 mph on Saturday, and while it’s unlikely the uptick in velocity from his last start to Saturday’s start has anything to do with his hair or lack thereof, it was still good to see.

“As long as I’m feeling healthy I think the velocity is gonna be there. If I can keep it around where it was today that’s kinda where I want to be,” he said.

Manaea also spoke about the Mets’ pitching staff as a whole – one currently without ace Kodai Senga – so far this spring and how everybody has stepped up and looked good en route to the lowest team ERA thus far in spring training.

“Incredible so far. I think as a staff we’re attacking the zone, getting ahead of guys, not walking guys, limiting damage and overall it’s just been a great camp so far,” he said.

Sean Manaea
Sean Manaea / SNY

Mark Vientos 'getting his confidence going a little bit' offensively

It had been a tough start to spring training for Vientos who entered Saturday slashing .143/.182/.286 with just three hits in 21 at-bats. He nearly doubled his hit total against the Cardinals by going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, and earned some praise from his manager.

"It’s good to see it," said Carlos Mendoza. "Like I said, he’s put in a lot of work behind the scenes and the fact that he’s getting results as of late, getting good pitches to hit and putting good swings and making hard contact, that’s good to see. Kind of getting his confidence going a little bit, too."

Vientos figures to play a bigger role for the Mets than he did as a rookie last season either at third base or as a designated hitter. In 2023, the 24-year-old slashed .211/.253/.367 with nine home runs in 65 games, but came on strong towards the end of the season.

Who's batting leadoff?

Responding to a Newsday report saying that the Mets are thinking about moving Brandon Nimmo out of the leadoff spot this season, Mendoza told reporters before Saturday's game that Nimmo's spot atop the lineup isn't in jeopardy.

However, that doesn't mean that can't or won't change.

"As a manager, you start playing around with so many different options and this was like an informal conversation that I randomly had a few weeks ago," Mendoza said. "Like I said, you play around with so many different names and all that, but it’s hard because this is a guy [Nimmo] that is one of the best at getting on base. If everyone is healthy, Nimmo will be in the leadoff spot… for now."

Some other options New York has on the roster that have led off before in their careers and that Mendoza directly mentioned are Starling Marte and Francisco Lindor.