Father’s Day will be a grand slam for Mets superstar Francisco Lindor.
The perpetually smiling 27-year-old switch-hitting shortstop plans to celebrate with his “Pops,” Miguel Lindor, the man who made him who he is today on and off the diamond, while basking in the glow of his own newfound fatherhood to 7-month-old daughter Kalina.
“Very exciting times in my life, man,” Lindor told The Post.
More like Amazin’ times. Billionaire Mets owner Steve Cohen opened his weighty wallet in March to give the five-tool player known as “Mr. Smile” $341 million over 10 years. The team is in first place despite a rash of injuries, and Lindor is batting nearly .300 over the last three weeks following a slow start.
Francisco credits his hard-driving dad with teaching him the game and instilling the mantra — “be consistent” — on and off the field.
Back in the day in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, Papa Lindor would pepper Francisco, aka Paquito, with ground balls to sharpen his son’s skills. Dad would stand halfway up a small slope next to their home and Francisco, his older brother Miguel and his cousin Christian Figueroa, would wait at the bottom — with an ominous thicket of bushes lurking behind them.
“He would hit the yellow rubber balls and if I missed them they would go in the bushes and I hated going into those bushes because I was little, I was scared,” Lindor recalled. “God knows what was in there.”
Lindor doesn’t hesitate when asked to share the traits he gets from his dad: “My stubborness and my willingness to compete, compete. Don’t back down from anything. And to believe I’m the best. But do it in a humble way. My dad never said, ‘Talk and express how good you are.’ He said, ‘Let the people know with your actions how good you are.’”
Asked if his dad was a good ballplayer, Lindor quipped: “He acted like he was.” Whenever his dad grabs a bat, he assumes the stance of the beloved, late Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, also a son of Puerto Rico.
Despite Lindor’s years of All-Star level play in the majors, his 64-year-old Papa Miguel — who resides in Florida — remains a stickler for excellence.
“Ooh, he’s still tough love,” Lindor says.
He’ll tell dad, “Pops, I’m a four-time All-Star. I’m the face of this franchise. I’m the face of New Balance. Don’t forget I’ve got two Silver Sluggers. I’ve got two Gold Gloves, Pops. I’m doing OK.
“He still gets mad at me because I will strike out, roll over, pop up. My dad is tough. He’s very hard to please.
“My dad understands my swing. My dad always said, ‘This is what you are not doing, this is where you have to get better and this is how you do it.’ That’s it. … There was no like, ‘Hey, Good job.’ … That’s why I am who I am today.
“People can boo me, people can scream at me, people can criticize me and say a bunch of different things to me, but the hardest critiques I’ve taken from my life have come from my dad. To this day, it’s the one that affects me the most. It’s not fans, it’s not teammates, it’s not coaches. It’s my dad.”
The superstar had this Father’s Day message for his dad: “Pops, thank you so much for devoting your life to me and my siblings. You have done an amazing job raising five kids … who have become good adults, caring, good-hearted adults. I’m extremely proud to call you my dad and I thank the good Lord everyday for making me your son.”
Lindor burns to bring a bunch of championships to Flushing, but confessed the birth of his daughter has been a game-changer.
“There’s no more bad days at the field anymore, man. This is truly a blessing. I get to come home and see this little girl smile and not care whether her daddy went 0-4 or 4-4. She has no idea. She just smiles.”
On the day he was traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Mets, Lindor announced he was engaged to Katia Reguero, the mother of his daughter. On Friday afternoon, Reguero posted a loving tribute on her Instagram story: “Everyday is Father’s Day, so happy (early) 1st Father’s Day to Kalina’s daddy!”
As for Kalina, will she be the next Lindor fielding hard-hit grounders in the yard?
“Nah, nah, nah. I want her to do whatever she wants in life. But I like tennis. … I would love for her to play tennis. But her mother is a musician, so we’ll see what route she picks.”