“It feels good to be myself again” after an injury


The running joke between Buck Showalter and Jeff McNeil is that the ball is going to be hit where it needs to go to test McNeil’s leg.

Stick McNeil at second base and he’ll have to charge a grounder and make an off-balance throw, like he did a few days ago. Slide McNeil to left field and he’ll have to run to the warning track to make the catch, like he did in the first inning on Sunday.

“The ball will find you,” McNeil said.

McNeil passed both tests on the court and, just as importantly, was the catalyst for a rally for the first time in five games since returning from a week out with hamstring strain. , leading the Mets to a 4-1 win over the Texas Rangers at Citi Field on Sunday.

“If he’s not on the All-Star team, I don’t see how,” Showalter said. “I’m not one of those guys who forgets everything guys have done over the year just because you don’t get a hit on every shot.”

Jeff McNeil hits an RBI double in the fourth inning.
Robert Sabo for NY POST

Showalter and McNeil frequently talk about which of his defensive positions is the least taxing on his leg. The conclusion? Guess what.

“We’re both saying it would be different if we knew what kind of balls were going to hit you,” Showalter said. “His leg is fine. There’s no pain or problem. I think until he’s a few days behind him, it’s going to be a little hesitant. But I know Jeff in the heat of the action will go there – it will go from first to third [base] or will try to catch that baseball.

McNeil’s first start in left field since June 19 was quiet after that first inning, until Ender Inciarte took over as defensive backup in the top of the ninth. With the tying run at home plate, Inciarte chased the game final into the gap.

By then, McNeil had already done his damage. After Pete Alonso reached second base on an error in the top of the fourth, McNeil scored a game-winning RBI brace in the right field corner. Eduardo Escobar followed with his third homer in as many games to make it 4-1.

“I’ve been out for a few days and it’s always tough,” McNeil said. “When I got to home plate there, I was just trying to get Pete down to third. It was probably the only time I wasn’t trying to get a hit. Lucky enough to get it going.

McNeil returned to hole number 8 on June 28 — a spot he’s held 18 times but isn’t maxing his .360 batting average with runners on base. It was 1 for 12 since returning before the 100th double of his career.

“Sometimes in the last few days I’ve been suspicious of [my leg] just came out of what happened last week,” McNeil said. “I try to play smart. [Sunday] was a good test. I was able to run 100% several times and felt great. It feels good to be myself again. »

McNeil delivered Alonso’s protection from the No. 5 hole on Sunday, which could soon be part of a trade deadline acquisition. There will still be room for McNeil.

“I’m always a little surprised when I look at the board because it looks like he’s got 50 or 60 RBIs,” Showalter said of McNeil, who drove in 34 this season. “He’s been in a lot of big races for us.”

New York Post

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