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Jeff McNeil has rough day at third base for Mets in spring training game

Jeff McNeil made three errors at third base

Jeff McNeil made three errors at third base in Mets' exhibition game on Sunday, March 7, 2021. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The bad news for Jeff McNeil on Sunday was he made three errors — one throwing, one fielding, one missed catch.

The good news for McNeil was that he was playing third base, which is not expected to be his primary position in 2021.

The Mets have made him split time between second base — where he is taking over for Robinson Cano, who is suspended after testing positive for a steroid — and the hot corner, which seemed particularly hot in a 4-4 exhibition tie with the Marlins.

"It was definitely a tough day defensively for him," manager Luis Rojas said. "The versatility is always a strength. We believe in his ability to play third. If you want to rank his positions, I know he’s more acclimated playing second base and even leftfield. But he’s looked well at third in the past. I know that we can go back to last year when he struggled a little bit at third as well, but we believe he can play there."

 

Rojas added that most of the Mets’ third-base playing time for the rest of camp will go to likely starter J.D. Davis and utilityman Jonathan Villar.

Meet & eat

Mets owner Steve Cohen and president Sandy Alderson had brunch with the team’s TV and radio broadcasters Sunday morning. It was meant as an introduction to Cohen, who visited camp for the third weekend in a row — when he can get away from his "day job," as he likes to call it, as a hedge-fund boss.

MRI for Martinez

Jose Martinez will get an MRI on Monday after suffering a "twisted left knee" during an awkward play at first base, Rojas said.

When the Marlins’ Lewin Diaz pulled a hard grounder down the first-base line, Martinez reached for it, missed, took a couple of steps and collided with first-base umpire Greg Gibson. Martinez couldn’t put any weight on the leg, and he was helped into the visitors’ dugout, the home one too far away.

Vizcaino impresses

Former Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino has touched 96 mph and mostly thrown 92-94 mph during camp, which included a live batting practice session Sunday against Michael Conforto and others.

That velocity is down from his 98-mph norm, but after barely pitching in recent years — 43 1/3 innings since 2018 — due to injuries, Vizcaino being healthy is a plus.

"No complaints," Rojas said. "He feels strong. He wants to get out there."

Vizcaino signed a minor-league deal with the Mets in November.

Carrasco closing in

Carlos Carrasco won’t pitch in a game until Friday or Saturday, Rojas said, but the Mets still expect him to be ready for the start of the regular season.

"This is a veteran guy that knows himself pretty well and we’re getting to know him," Rojas said. "But the trust on how things are going to be progressed on his end, it’s there."

Carrasco missed the first week-plus of camp while receiving extra medical tests.

Extra bases

Dominic Smith is scheduled to play first base Monday and leftfield later in the week, Rojas said. He hasn’t played defense yet as the Mets ease him in and manage his workload . . . Righthander Trevor Hildenberger, among the relievers competing for a bullpen spot, has six strikeouts through two exhibition innings . . . Villar’s three-run homer was his first hit of camp (four games).

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