Playing left field, McNeil reached for his right calf after fielding Bryan Holaday’s double to lead off the third inning. Following a lengthy conversation on the field with manager Mickey Callaway and head trainer Brian Chicklo, McNeil departed.
“I just couldn’t risk it,” Callaway said. “A cramp in the second inning is kind of telling me something. To play seven more innings when you’ve already had a little bit of a warning sign, I just couldn’t do it.”
Added McNeil: “My calf just cramped up. Nothing serious at all.”
With a single and a home run in Game 1 of the doubleheader, McNeil increased his batting average to .337 to retake the Major League lead. The Mets can ill afford an injury to him as they try to push for a playoff berth, particularly with second baseman Robinson Cano on the injured list for the foreseeable future due to a torn hamstring. McNeil figures to factor heavily into the Mets’ plans at second base for as long as Cano is sidelined.
After McNeil departed Monday’s game, Aaron Altherr shifted from center to left field to replace him, with Juan Lagares entering in center. McNeil walked twice and scored a run in Game 2 before exiting.
McNeil’s cameo in the game marked his 162nd appearance as a big leaguer. He owns a career .334 average with 40 doubles, seven triples and 17 homers, and he is the fastest player to reach 200 hits in franchise history.