In an attempt to squash a growing rift between Mets players and the team’s fans, the infielders Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor apologized Tuesday for their recent thumbs-down gestures, which caused outrage among fans and within the organization.
The gesture, Baez admitted Sunday, was directed at fans in retaliation for booing the team in recent weeks.
After Baez revealed the inside nature of the signal, which was usually made on the basepaths toward the team’s dugout after the player got a big hit, Sandy Alderson, the team president, condemned the players in a statement, calling it “totally unacceptable.”
The Mets were off Monday, but on Tuesday, Lindor, who signed a 10-year, $341 million extension before the season, and Baez spoke to reporters on the field before a doubleheader against the Miami Marlins and issued their apologies and explanations.
“Thumbs down, for me, means the adversity we have gone through, the negative things, we have overcome it,” Lindor said. “We did it, we went over it. However, it was wrong and I apologize to whoever I offended. It was not my intent to offend people. You can’t go against the fans.”
Lindor added, “It doesn’t look good on our part.”
Lindor came to bat to a mixture of boos and cheers from a smattering of fans in the first inning of Tuesday’s makeshift doubleheader — the first game was the resumption of a game against the Marlins that started on April 11 and the second was the team’s regularly scheduled game against Miami. Lindor heard much the same reaction after he put down a sacrifice bunt.
Steven Cohen, the owner of the Mets, applauded Lindor and Baez for apologizing and asked fans to get behind them for Tuesday’s games.
“Glad to hear our players apologizing to the fans,” he wrote.
Manager Luis Rojas said the team held a meeting before the game to discuss the matter.
Baez, who is a close friend of Lindor’s, was acquired on July 30 for an outfield prospect, Pete Crow-Armstrong, and the team lost 11 of its next 15 games. He will be a free agent after the season. As the losing continued in recent weeks, the fans booed more vociferously and, according to Baez, some players developed the thumbs-down gesture as a way of saying that if the fans can boo the players when they play poorly, the players can boo the fans when the team has success.
“I didn’t mean to offend anybody,” Baez said. “It’s something I’ve done in the past to the other team.”
Baez said that he might have said something wrong about booing the fans and that he really meant it toward his teammates.
“I didn’t say the fans are bad,” he said. “Like, I love the fans. I just felt like we were alone. Obviously, the fans want to win and they pay our salary, like everybody says. But we want to win, and the frustration got to us. I didn’t mean to offend anybody. We apologize.”
Whether the apologies will satisfy fans remains to be seen. There were very few of them at Citi Field when the early game began, and Baez was not in the starting lineup. More people were expected for the regularly scheduled game later Tuesday.