MIAMI — More quickly than he would like, Brandon Nimmo is becoming something of an expert at getting hit in the hand — the best and worst spots to get plunked, what it feels like, how bad it is, when he knows he’ll be ready to play again.
This time, Nimmo got lucky. The Wei-Yin Chen fastball that left stitch marks on a knuckle on his left ring finger Tuesday night resulted in minimal swelling, and by the time Nimmo reported to Marlins Park on Wednesday, he was fine and able to play in the series finale. X-rays Tuesday were negative.
Nimmo passed a grip-strength test — even besting his baseline mark from spring training — and experienced no issues during early batting practice.
“We dodged a bullet here. I’m just glad it feels good,” Nimmo said. “Not much soreness at all. It doesn’t affect how I go to the ball. So I was really happy with that this morning.”
This issue probably won’t go away, though. He’s gotten hit in the hands throughout his career, he said, and that includes three times in the past year — once in the first half of 2018, when he sat out a few days and then slumped at the plate, and once in the second half, when he thought better of it and went on the injured list.
“It’s not fun,” said Nimmo, smiling anyway. “It’s part of the game. People come up and in, they’re going to miss sometimes. It happens to get in the right spot.”
Or the wrong spot. Consider it a product of Nimmo’s batting approach, which brings him close to the plate. He got hit by 22 pitches last season, most in the majors and a Mets single-season record.
Tuesday night was Nimmo’s first HBP of 2019. One down, who-knows-how-many more to go.
“This one was higher up on the knuckles,” Nimmo said. “I’m glad it didn’t hit [lower] and right where the bat goes. That helps a lot.”
Jeff McNeil was penciled in at third base until tweaking his right knee Tuesday night. Manager Mickey Callaway said it has been “banged up” since McNeil ran into a wall during spring training, but expected him to play Thursday…The Mets adjusted their starter schedule against the Nationals to move Steven Matz ahead of Zack Wheeler, separating the two lefthanders (Matz and Jason Vargas) in the rotation order. Pitching matchups for the first Citi Field series of the year: Stephen Strasburg-Noah Syndergaard on Thursday, Patrick Corbin-Matz on Saturday, Max Scherzer-Wheeler on Sunday…The Mets’ home opener is sold out.