McNeil (hamstring) to IL, but news not all bad 

Mets infielder expected to miss the minimum 10 days (source)

August 14th, 2019

ATLANTA -- spoke in a soft voice, disappointment plain to see on his face. Around him, the Mets’ clubhouse was uncharacteristically quiet, as players dressed and departed SunTrust Park in hushed tones.

Half a day later, however, McNeil received a bit of optimistic news. An MRI taken on Wednesday revealed that the left hamstring strain he suffered is mild. McNeil was placed on the 10-day injured list, with veteran taking his place. A source said McNeil expects to miss the minimum 10 days; he’s first eligible to return on Aug. 24.

“It sucks,” McNeil said on Tuesday. “The team’s playing well. I just want to contribute. Hopefully, this is something real short and I can get back on the field.”

Leading off the ninth inning of the Mets’ 5-3 loss to the Braves, McNeil pulled up in pain just past first base as he attempted to beat out an infield grounder. He grabbed his left hamstring, then walked off the field gingerly alongside manager Mickey Callaway and trainer Joe Golia. A day later, the Mets officially placed him on the injured list, recalling Tejada and shifting reliever Jacob Rhame to the 60-day IL.

“It’s never easy to lose one of your core players,” general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. “Obviously with Jeff at the top of the lineup, and with the ability to get two hits it seems like every night, is a big blow. But I think that the team has shown all year some resiliency, and the belief that the next guy up can contribute.”

McNeil’s assignment to the IL means a chance for Tejada, who was batting .330/.408/.476 at Triple-A Syracuse. A Met from 2010-15, Tejada has not appeared in the Majors since '17, nor with the Mets since breaking his leg on a Chase Utley slide in the '15 National League Division Series, but he has thrived in the Minors for much of this season. Tejada will theoretically back up starting shortstop Amed Rosario and second baseman Joe Panik, whom the Mets signed last week.

Tejada is also capable of playing shortstop and he is a sound up-the-middle defender, which is why the Mets promoted him instead of Dilson Herrera.

“We know he’s going to be solid defensively,” Callaway said. “He’s going to get some reps out there, so it will be nice if he steps up.”

McNeil’s injury should also result in more playing time in the outfield for , who went 4-for-4 on Tuesday, and Aaron Altherr. Complicating matters is the fact that regular second baseman is already on the IL due to his own, more serious hamstring injury, and is not due back any time soon.

In any case, the Mets know there is no true substitute for McNeil, who is batting a team-high .332 with 15 home runs and a .929 OPS. At the time of his injury, McNeil ranked fourth in the Majors in batting average behind DJ LeMahieu, Christian Yelich and Bryan Reynolds. Given his current rates of production, McNeil seemed destined for some down-ballot NL MVP Award votes.

“It’s tough,” Mets pitcher said. “He’s a huge part of this team. He brings the fire every day to the field. He’s a ballplayer, and you need those types of guys on the team. You need them in the lineup. It’s unfortunate that that happened. Hopefully, it’s not too serious and he can get back decently quick. We’ll need his bat, that’s for sure.”

Earlier this year, McNeil spent about two weeks on the IL with a strain of the same left hamstring. He said he could not determine whether this current injury, which he called “a snag” of the hamstring, is more or less severe; his MRI results indicated a similar sort of injury.

“Hard to compare the two,” Van Wagenen said. “It’s always hard to say until a guy starts progressing with activity, but we were encouraged by the MRI. Hopefully, we’ll get a quick turnaround like last time.”