For years, Luis Guillorme was passed over in silence. His opportunities were – at best – limited. Higher draft picks and more experienced players were given the benefit of the doubt over the versatile and skilled infielder.
“I think there were situations where I could have brought what I’m doing now to the team,” he said Monday, before the Mets opened a series against the Nationals at Citi. Field. “I think I wasn’t used to the best advantage in the team, I guess. … No one is going to be happy about that. I wasn’t the most angry about it. But no one in this situation will be happy.
That, however, appears to be a mistake that the current Mets hierarchy does not repeat. Guillorme has become a valued member of the club, particularly vital of late amid minor injuries to Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil. Leading Saturday and Sunday against the Phillies, he reached base six out of eight possible times, contributing a major part to those wins.
“I’m happy [manager] male [Showalter] gives me more chances than in the past,” Guillorme said, pointing out that Showalter made a conscious effort to use his entire bench frequently.
Guillorme, 27, is on course to receive the most at-bats of his five-year major league career by far, and he’s making the most of it. He entered Monday night’s game with a solid .355/.437/.461 with .897 OPS in 76 at-bats. With semi-regular playing time in May — his 49 trips to the plate were his second most in a month at the majors — Guillorme was batting .408 with an OPS of 1.003.
“Yes, I have more consistent beats, but there have also been times when I go two, three days without a beat. Just being able to consistently repeat my swing, whether it’s back-to-back days, whether it’s two days in between, coming off the bench, it doesn’t matter. I feel every time I put my feet on the plate, I feel comfortable. I don’t feel lost. …Right now, every time I get up there, I feel really good and ready to strike.
The glove is of course what brought Guillorme here, the incredibly quick reflexes that make him a more multi-position defender. Everyone remembers the viral moment from spring training 2017, when he nonchalantly grabbed a flying bat with one hand as he rested on the railing of the Mets dugout and his teammates rushed .
“When I was in Venezuela I had this room with four walls and I was throwing balls against the wall as far and hard as I could and just trying to react,” Guillorme said. “I’ve always had a good hand eye [coordination]. I think that made it a little better.
Learning and adapting to his role as a part-time player was difficult. Throughout his baseball career, starting at the age of eight, he was always a starter. It wasn’t easy adapting, playing one day and then sitting out the next. In the past, this contributed to its inconsistency on the plate. Not this year.
“It was something I had to get used to,” he said. “It’s a different approach.”
This hot stretching coincided with the shave of his thick beard by Guillorme. He did so on April 19 after going 0-for-12 at home plate. He starts pushing again, but Guillorme doesn’t consider shaving again. Not unless it turns freezing.
“I don’t like being clean shaven at all,” he said. “We have to take drastic measures. It must be really bad.
There’s no reason for him to make any changes now.