WASHINGTON — Luis Guillorme laughs when he stops to consider the “Bench Mob” nickname that was born during spring training and has become so popular with the Mets.
“It started as a joke,” Guillorme said. “But especially how everything has been going, it shows how everybody contributes, whether you are coming off the bench or playing every day. At one point it’s going to be your turn to contribute.”
Guillorme’s time is now. Since returning from a strained oblique and a stint on the injured list that lasted more than a month, the versatile infielder has settled in at second base to give the Mets a left-handed bat until Jeff McNeil returns (likely by Monday).
Guillorme has largely replaced another Bench Mob stalwart, Jose Peraza, who starts against left-handed pitchers. In the 26-year-old Guillorme, the Mets have a defensive whiz who can handle the bat enough to be a threat.
His defense was on display earlier this week, when he took the cutoff throw in short right field and fired to the plate, nailing potential tying run Jake Marisnick in the Mets’ 3-2 victory over the Cubs on Tuesday. It was a typical Guillorme play: smart and effective.
“We know who Marisnick is, especially since he was here last year,” Guillorme said. “We know he is a fast guy, so that thought was always on my mind. I just set up there right in the middle, whether it was a throw to second or throw to home and when the ball was coming to me I could hear [Francisco] Lindor and everybody else yelling to me, ‘Four, four, four.’ And that is when I made the adjustment to throw home.”
Guillorme entered Friday’s action against the Nationals with a .265/.432/.265 slash line. That included reaching base seven times in his previous four starts.
“I still don’t feel fully comfortable, but I think we’re getting there,” Guillorme said. “I think I got a few strikeouts the past couple of days, which is not something that happens to me very often. I am still walking, but I still think there is room for improvement right there.”
Guillorme provides the Mets with insurance at shortstop and third base in addition to second. That gives the Mets — when healthy — a strong core of backup infielders. Jonathan Villar has become the starting third baseman with J.D. Davis on the IL for more than a month, and he has performed at a respectable level.
It’s because of the Mets’ copious infield options that manager Luis Rojas recently said McNeil, the starting second baseman, could also see action in the outfield upon returning from the IL.
“We played really good defense during [Guillorme’s] absence and now he comes back to us and we feel pretty good about his defense, but he’s such an upgrade,” Rojas said. “He’s played real well, third, second, especially at second making a lot of plays. That play [Tuesday] night won the game for us. All that he brings: the quality of his at-bats, his willingness to be out there every day playing, a good teammate, just an asset to us.
“He’s been a role player. He’s taken that role of coming off the bench, he’s embraced it and he knows what he needs to do, but if you ask him to come in and perform every day he’ll be ready to do that, from a physical and mental standpoint. He’s just an asset for us.”