New York Mets infielder Jeff McNeil at spring training in...

New York Mets infielder Jeff McNeil at spring training in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on March 13, 2022 Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Jeff McNeil will be the Mets’ primary second baseman this season despite the return of Robinson Cano, manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday.

"I don't think it will be split," he said. "Mac will get the majority [of playing time] there."

He added of Cano: "I think Robbie knows he's not going to play second base for us as much as he wants to. But we hope he's not a pure DH either. There's the potential for him to play some first base if needed. I wouldn’t put him in the outfield."

McNeil, however, might also play some outfield, which has been the case during parts of the past three seasons. His experience there mostly has come in leftfield, with a bit in rightfield.

"It's good to hear that Mac is capable of playing out there," Showalter said. "In fact, there are some people who think he plays pretty well out there."

The Mets want to be physically careful with the 39-year-old Cano, who is back after serving a PED suspension in 2021. He figures to get a significant percentage of DH at-bats, if he proves capable after the long layoff. He dabbled at first base with the Mariners a few years ago, and it is not clear how the Mets would fit him into their first-base picture with Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith on the roster.

Versatility was an emphasis for the Mets as they constructed the roster and planned for spring training.

 

Eduardo Escobar is penciled in as the starting third baseman, but he also can play second.

Showalter said he is comfortable playing Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte and Mark Canha in any of the outfield spots. But he declined to specify which of Nimmo or Marte the Mets prefer in center.

"It’s comforting for me to know that . . . we’ve got multiple people who can play in multiple places," Showalter said. "And the good thing about it is they’re receptive to it."