Mark Vientos aims to make Mets’ roster after receiving tip

PORT ST. LUCIE — Mark Vientos worked hard to reach the major leagues last season, but once he got there, he was unprepared for the Mets’ job expectations.

Unaware of how much work major league players put in daily, he was surprised when infield coach Joey Cora would approach him in the clubhouse, telling him “Let’s go.” Cora wanted him to take grounders.

Vientos eventually got the point, with an assist from Eduardo Escobar, who took it upon himself to push the rookie third baseman. The message from Escobar was basic: be the first player in the clubhouse every day and work diligently, because people are watching. Escobar has become Vientos’ workout partner.

“Just seeing a veteran like [Escobar], he’s been in the league for 10-plus years, how he still goes about his business … it just makes me realize that I am a young guy and I need to be on top of my game at all times, because the veteran guys are on top of their game at all times,” Vientos said this week.

Mark Vientos takes batting practice during Mets’ spring training practice.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

“In the big leagues everybody is good and everyone around you is talented. So you have got to be on your ‘A’ game at all times and not lose focus and stick to your routine on a daily basis. I was looking at all the guys on the team and that is what they were doing, they were focused on the routine and doing the little things every single day.”

Escobar said the 23-year-old Vientos now realizes the work it will take to stick in the big leagues. Vientos is among the team’s right-handed hitting options this spring, as both a corner infielder and DH.

“[Vientos] understands it now, when you are working you see how happy everybody is with you because you respect [the game] … you are working,” Escobar said.

The veteran third baseman added: “Vientos is the future of this team. I love the kid.”

Mark Vientos watches batting practice.
Mark Vientos watches batting practice.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

As a September roster addition last season Vientos had 41 plate appearances in which he produced a .167/.268/.278 slash line with one homer and three RBIs. That came after Vientos hit 24 homers in 101 games at Triple-A Syracuse, with a .280/.358/.519 slash line.

This spring, he is among the organization’s top prospects — along with Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty and Ronny Mauricio — who will benefit when players such as Escobar, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Francisco Lindor and Omar Narvaez leave camp to participate in the World Baseball Classic. Vientos could see action at first base and third base in addition to receiving DH at-bats.

Vientos noted that he brought three gloves to camp: first base, third base and outfield. Defense is important, according to general manager Billy Eppler, so Vientos likely will have to show he has improved on that front to earn a roster spot.

“I feel like first base has always been kind of easy for me,” Vientos said. “Third base for sure, I have been working on it and it’s my natural position and the stuff they had me doing, especially I took to the offseason. My first-step quickness, I have gotten better in my footwork so I have been working on all that stuff.”

He said he’s grateful for his stint with the Mets last season, which allowed him to understand how big leaguers go about their work.

“For the three weeks I was in the big leagues I learned a lot, just soaking up information from all the players, just seeing, playing,” Vientos said. “Everybody is attention to detail in every part of the game, so it just made me work harder and focus on the little things of the game when I went back in the offseason.”