PORT ST. LUCIE — The Mets’ lineup will be different this year, and all you had to do was watch the first two spring at-bats of Robinson Cano and Pete Alonso on Saturday at First Data Field to understand that difference.
The veteran and the rookie.
In the first inning of the Mets’ Grapefruit League opener against the Braves, the left-handed hitting Cano, who is entering his 15th season, went with the pitch from right-hander Touki Toussaint and lifted a deep drive to left that was caught at the wall by Adam Duvall, giving the sellout crowd of 7,134 a thrill.
It was a classic professional first at-bat by Cano, a sign of what is to come. Go with the pitch to get in the groove.
The baseball did not go out of the ballpark, but it told you everything about Cano’s all-fields approach and what that will mean to the No. 3 spot of the Mets order and how he will attempt to beat the shift, a must these days.
Then in the second inning, the crowd was given its home-run thrill.
The right-hand hitting Alonso viciously attacked the first pitch, a decent slider, and drove a line drive over the left-center wall for a two-run home run. As he hustled around the bases and crossed the plate in celebration, you could hear him yell 25 rows up into the stands.
Alonso’s locker is smartly positioned to the right of Cano’s and directly next to veteran Todd Frazier’s corner cubicle. Frazier has been spending a lot of time with Alonso, showing him the ropes.
“We’ve been talking about proving yourself so, so far so good,’’ Frazier told The Post on his way out of the clubhouse following the Mets’ 4-3 win. “I’m excited for him.’’
Asked about Alonso, Cano quickly smiled and said, “He can hit.’’
Those three words said it all.
“I love moments, I love being challenged,’’ Alonso said after watching a video of his blast. “I take pride in stepping up and not backing away from a challenge.’’
Alonso has a personality, a combination of fun and fearlessness. He is social-media savvy and explained he shortened his Twitter handle from Peter to Pete because it is friendly and less formal.
There was an interesting sight during batting practice, too. The visiting Braves stood on the top step to watch Alonso take BP. It was a little bit like the attention given to an Aaron Judge batting practice. The Mets can only hope Alonso becomes their Judge.
This is the start of The Pete Alonso Show — he homered in his last Triple-A at-bat last season, No. 36. This is the power Mets fans have been salivating for ever since Alonso first popped up on the prospect list.
Mets left-hander Hector Santiago was impressed.
“I was warming up when he hit the ball,” Santiago said, “and I was like, ‘He got a hold of that one,’ and it went over the camera guy and I was like, ‘Oh, he really got a hold of that one.’ ”
Last year at this time it was Asdrubal Cabrera at second and Adrian Gonzalez at first. Gonzo to Alonso and Cabrera to Cano is a big difference.
In his second at-bat, Cano beat the shift with a two-out infield single to score the runner from third base.
Alonso dropped a throw at first and that is where he must improve. That came before his home run, so he is not taking his defense to the plate.
He wants to force the Mets’ hand at first.
“I want to be that guy on the Opening Day roster,’’ Alonso said.
Mickey Callaway was all smiles after the game because the Mets executed some of the key elements they have been working on, saying of Cano’s RBI single against the shift: “Robby Cano with the situational hitting there. That was awesome. Robby went out there and showed them how to do it. There’s free hits over there.
“I think Alonso has that short, simple swing and you have to make pitches from the get-go,’’ Callaway said.
Cano and Alonso give Callaway and the Mets a much different look.
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