When Jeff McNeil returns to the Mets, it won’t be strictly as an infielder.
While McNeil only played second base before straining his left hamstring on May 16, manager Luis Rojas plans to use him on occasion in the outfield, where McNeil saw some playing time each of the past two years. With so many capable infielders on the roster, from Luis Guillorme to Jonathan Villar to Jose Peraza, Rojas may use McNeil in the outfield until Michael Conforto (strained hamstring) and Brandon Nimmo (finger) are ready to rejoin the team.
“For a lot of guys that are playing in the lineup or on our roster, everyone should stay fresh with all the positions they can play. ‘Mac’ is one of them,” Rojas said before the Mets beat the Cubs, 3-2, at Citi Field. “And I did tell him that before he left for Brooklyn on Sunday, just to see which game he can find that he can play the outfield, just to be an option. We can have some moving parts because guys are playing really well at second base. And yeah, he’s gonna play second base, but he may play left field [too].”
McNeil played five innings for Single-A Brooklyn on Sunday and went 0-for-2. His rehab assignment continued on Tuesday with Triple-A Syracuse. He went 1-for-4 with a run scored in five innings at second base. If all goes well, McNeil could rejoin the Mets for their series this weekend in Washington.
McNeil started 30 games in the outfield last year and 83 the year before. He was able to move back to his natural position this season after Robinson Cano was suspended following his second violation of MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Right-handed reliever Miguel Castro threw a light side session to test his sore neck. Castro hasn’t pitched since Friday night. Rojas said before the game he hoped to use him in one of the next two games and doesn’t believe a stint on the injured list will be necessary.
Infielder J.D. Davis (sprained left hand), out since May 3, took ground balls before the game. He began swinging again on Friday after he was shut down with continued discomfort. His hand had been in a protective splint for a week. … Outfielder Albert Almora Jr. (left shoulder contusion) played seven innings in center field for Syracuse and went 1-for-3 with a run scored. It was the sixth game of his rehab assignment.