SAN FRANCISCO — As Jeff McNeill was getting ready to speak to reporters after the Mets’ 9-3 loss on Wednesday, Starling was Marte, standing just a couple of lockers away.
“He’s fine, he’s fine. He can play,” said Marte.
With the Mets trailing 9-1 in the bottom of the third, McNeil leapt to the left wall and took a brilliant catch just before hitting that wall. His face and knee both hit the wall and he was immediately lying face-first, on the dirt below. Buck Showalter ran out of the dugout to the left to check on him, as did a coach and a few other players, but McNeil soon stood up and remained in play until the end of the innings.
“It was a very good bump,” said McNeil, who said he didn’t expect to hit the wall when he made the catch in proper field.
He was replaced by Travis Jankowski in the top of the fourth, and the Mets later announced that he had been pulled out of the game with a left knee injury. Standing at his locker after the game, McNeil said he was feeling better and should be ready to return to the starting lineup on Friday against the Phillies.
Showalter echoed McNeil, saying he had passed the concussion protocol and wanted to continue playing. But, with the Mets eight runs down in the third, the captain thought it was best to let him rest and play safe.
“I guess everything hits [the wall]’Watching the replays,'” McNeill said. “I feel like my glasses have worn out a little bit. So I think everything went great. It was mostly knee. When I left, the pain started to go away. Nice to run from the outfield.”
Notably, both Giants fans and Mets fans cheered for McNeil as he walked off the field at the end of the innings. McNeil said San Francisco fans told him he made a good effort, and that they respected the catch he went out for.
Some Mets fans were outraged that McNeil would try so hard on a play and potentially risk his season with a serious injury when the Mets were losing 9-1. But, as for McNeil, he said he would always play the game hard, trying 100%.
“That’s how I am,” McNeill said. “That’s how I’ve played the game my whole life. I don’t think I’m ever going to stop playing hard. You just don’t want to let that ball fall and it’s a double. So I’ll go out and make those plays.” .
The Mets, who lost back-to-back games for just the second time this season, will find a day to reset on the scheduled off-day after traveling to the West Coast on Thursday. The Amazons went 3-3 on their six-game road trip against the Rockies and Giants, and they’re 11-9 in their last 20 games. Throughout that segment, the Mets maintained a steady first-place lead in the National League East.
The Mets have two more trips to the West Coast this season — the next one coming as soon as next week, the other a six-game trip to Milwaukee and Oakland in late September.
“Let’s face it, it’s a travel day,” Showalter said of how much he appreciates Thursday. “These trips, we got two more of them. They’re tough on the team. We finished .500 on the trip. We’ve played 28% of our season. I’m proud of the way he’s gone on this journey. “
The Mets will start Carlos Carrasco for the series opener against the Phillies at Citi Field on Friday, followed by Taijuan Walker on Saturday. Team officials are still considering whether to start Chris Bassett or David Pietersen for Sunday’s series finale.
Basit was battling a sinus infection on Tuesday, and he practiced on the field on Wednesday to let the Mets know if he was feeling better. If he climbs the hill on Sunday, Bassett will be pitching on his usual fifth day.