McNeil, Cano land on injured list

Mets recall infielder Guillorme, lefty reliever O'Rourke

May 23rd, 2019

NEW YORK -- Already working with a thin lineup, the Mets lost two more starters before Thursday’s game against the Nationals. The team placed second baseman and left fielder on the injured list due to a left quad strain and a left hamstring strain, respectively.

To replace those two, the Mets recalled infielder and reliever from Triple-A Syracuse. Both were active for Thursday’s game.

McNeil believes he sustained his injury taking second base on defensive indifference during the Mets’ ninth-inning rally Tuesday. He was out of the lineup the following night, and felt enough muscle tightness Thursday that the shorthanded Mets decided to put him on the IL.

“I just woke up this morning, we were hoping it would be much better,” McNeil said. “The hamstring tightness is still there so we’re just going to play it safe. … We’re going to be smart with this thing.”

Although McNeil insisted that the injury is “pretty minor,” any absence leaves the Mets in a bind. McNeil is the team’s leading hitter, batting .333 in 46 games despite a recent slump.

More serious is the injury to Cano, whose MRI revealed a left quad strain that he suffered running out a ground ball in the third inning Wednesday. Cano, who is hitting .241 with a .658 OPS in 45 games, said he hopes the strain is "nothing too serious" and that he plans to be reevaluated in 10 days. Manager Mickey Callaway mentioned Adeiny Hechavarria, who started at second base Thursday, as the leading candidate to play there in Cano’s absence. Guillorme also has experience at that position.

“You plug in our depth, which we’re very, very confident with, and they’ve already shown that they go out there and help us out and help us win games,” Callaway said. “So you plug those guys in, and you keep on plugging along.”

The outfield presents a trickier problem, with McNeil, Michael Conforto (concussion), Brandon Nimmo (neck inflammation) and Yoenis Cespedes (ankle surgery, out for the season) all on the IL. The Mets do not have timetables for the returns of McNeil, Conforto and Nimmo. For as long as they are sidelined, the team will depend upon some combination of Carlos Gomez, Juan Lagares, J.D. Davis, Rajai Davis, Aaron Altherr and perhaps even Dominic Smith, who recently began taking fly balls in left field.

“Kind of a tough time for us right now,” McNeil said. “But the guys we’ve got here, they’re doing a good job. … Hopefully, they keep it going.”

Conforto is eligible to come off the seven-day concussion IL on Friday, but the Mets have given no indication that he will do so at that time. He increased the intensity of his running program on Thursday, hit off a tee and tracked breaking balls in an indoor batting cage.

Ready to return
Left-hander Jason Vargas, who has been sidelined since May 6 due to a left hamstring strain, is scheduled to come off the IL to start Saturday against the Tigers. Vargas is 1-2 with a 5.92 ERA in seven appearances (six starts), but had posted a 3.00 ERA in his four most recent outings before landing on the IL.