Saturday, August 24, 2019

Callaway's Strategy For McNeil's Return Shows Mets Are "Very Selfless Team"

Mets Manager Mickey Callaway. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets activated Jeff McNeil off the injured list on Saturday after his successful rehab with the Brooklyn Cyclones on Friday night recovering from a hamstring injury.

McNeil, who is hitting .332 with 15 home runs and 55 RBI, plus a .400 on-base percentage, will be a welcome addition to the Mets' lineup, and he is set to come off the bench Saturday and be back in the starting lineup on Sunday.

With the Mets' lineup clicking on all cylinders in his absence - Amed Rosario has excelled as the lead-off hitter, with Joe Panik hitting second and playing a great second base, and the continued solid play of Todd Frazier at third, plus the superb performances of their outfield, with J.D. Davis in left, Juan Lagares in center, and Michael Conforto in right - the question is where in the lineup and at what position will McNeil fit in?

"It will be a lot different places, I think that we have a lot of guys performing," Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said on Saturday afternoon. "We have a second baseman performing, we have a center fielder performing, we have a left fielder performing, we have a third baseman that's been performing, so I feel like McNeil can cover a lot of those spots. We can move Conforto over to center every now and again, get McNeil in the outfield. He can spell at second, he can spell at third, he can help J.D. Davis when he needs a day off.

"These guys have been playing a lot - the same guys have been playing every single day, and it takes its toll after awhile, especially when you've played games like we have the last couple of nights," Callaway said, in reference to Thursday's win over Cleveland being called at 12:27 A.M. due to rain and last night's 14-inning loss to Atlanta ending at around 11:50 P.M.

Callaway continued on McNeil, "I think we'll be able to move him around strategically to help keep guys fresh and keep the guys playing that should be playing."

On if McNeil goes right back to being the leadoff hitter when he starts on Sunday, Callaway said, "That's a tough one, you know. Panik's been good in the two-hole, Rosie's done a good job leading off, so that it is a tough one. We're gonna have to continue to think about that; I've been thinking about it all day when I found out that we'd probably be activating him and he'll probably play second base, so I'm not quite sure. We'll have to see what happens."

One thing that is clear in hearing Callaway talk about his decision is that all the players involved will likely accept whatever he decides, which he has emphasized in relation to how he uses his bullpen.

"I feel like our whole team is a very selfless team," Callaway said. "That's why we've been able to do what we've done and get back to where we want to get. You've got to give credit where credit's due, and that's on the players, man. They come to play, they come to win, and they accept whatever challenge is in front of them, and if they're not starting that day, they're ready to come off the bench and get a big pinch-hit to win a game."

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