ATLANTA – Jeff McNeil’s cranky lower back is the first potential injury of substance to infiltrate the Mets’ starting lineup this season.
After getting penciled in Monday for his first start this season in left field, McNeil was scratched with lower-back tightness he incurred during his pregame batting cage routine, according to the team.
J.D. Davis — who was originally on the bench because of an upset stomach — replaced McNeil and batted fifth in the lineup. Dominic Smith moved from DH to left field.
McNeil has been among the Mets’ hottest hitters, with a .323/.429/.429 slash line. He was shifted to left field in the original lineup to give Andres Gimenez the start at third base.
Amed Rosario exited Monday’s game after three innings, though his status was not immediately clear. Andres Gimenez took over at shortstop, while Luis Guillorme entered the game at third base.
Smith’s time with the Mets may have finally arrived.
With Yoenis Cespedes finished after opting out for the season, the vacancy exists for the 24-year-old Smith that had previously been nonexistent. Smith started in left field on Monday against the Braves, but also factors into the DH mix. Smith is still Pete Alonso’s backup at first base.
“We were definitely looking to put Dom in there, whether it was in left, at first, DH and now it’s going to happen a little bit more,” manager Luis Rojas said.
Smith spent most of last season coming off the bench because of an outfield glut, and even the addition of the DH to this National League this season hadn’t provided him much of an opening, with Cespedes’ return to the lineup.
Smith entered play with a .250/.375/.500 slash line with one homer and five RBIs in 16 plate appearances.
“You can count on a quality at-bat with him,” Rojas said. “Despite his young age we have talked about how mature he has handled the role of not starting every day and being ready when he gets the chance. Right now he is getting the chance and we’re really looking forward to putting him in there any time we could.”
Ali Sanchez was recalled from the team’s alternate training site, giving the Mets a third catcher. Rojas said carrying a third catcher will provide a safety net in pinch-running for Wilson Ramos in the late innings.
Source: New York Post
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