Jeff McNeil left Game 2 of the Mets’ doubleheader against the Marlins on Monday evening but appeared to avoid any serious injury. The team announced he suffered a right calf cramp.
McNeil was removed in the top of the third after fielding Bryan Holaday’s double off the leftfield wall. He threw the ball back to the infield but came up grimacing and wrapped his hands around his right leg.
Manager Mickey Callaway and trainer Brian Chicklo checked on McNeil, who appeared to plead his case to not be taken out of the game. He soon walked back to the dugout without limping.
“I went to throw it and I think my calf just cramped up,” McNeil said. “Nothing serious at all. We’re just being very safe and making sure nothing happens in the rest of the game.”
The scare put a damper on what was an otherwise historic day for McNeil. He reached the 200-hit mark faster than anyone else in Mets history with a single in the eighth inning of Game 1. The hit came in his 599th career at-bat.
McNeil breezed past the other two names at the top of the list, Dave Magadan and David Wright, who needed 667 and 668 at-bats, respectively, to do it.
“I didn’t even really know I was at 200 hits until they put it on the scoreboard and everyone started cheering, so it was pretty cool,” McNeil said. “Especially with a bunch of great players who have played for the Mets.”
McNeil didn’t waste any time getting things started in Game 1. He led off the bottom of the first with a home run on the first pitch thrown by Robert Dugger, who was making his major-league debut. It was the third time McNeil has homered from the leadoff spot this season. All three of those home runs have come on the first pitch.
“[Opposing pitchers] know if they miss middle in that he can juice it,” Callaway said after the Mets’ 6-2 victory over the Marlins in Game 1. “And if they try to throw him away, he can slap it the other way.”
McNeil’s swing-first mentality has become something of a calling card for him this season. Callaway said it’s an approach he and the Mets’ coaching staff support wholeheartedly.
“We encourage him to be who he is,” he said. “And that’s who he is. He’s going to swing early and often, and we encourage it because he hits about .700 when he does it.”
He isn’t hitting quite .700, but McNeil’s success early in his at-bats is unquestioned. He has hit .410 (32-for-78) with nine doubles and nine homers on the first pitch of an at-bat this season. His 32 hits and 18 extra-base hits with a 0-0 count lead the majors.
McNeil, who homered in three straight games for the first time in his career before coming out of Game 2, has 42 multihit games this season.