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Mets' Kevin Pillar prepared to fill in for injured Brandon Nimmo

Mets' Kevin Pillar reacts after he hit a

Mets' Kevin Pillar reacts after he hit a grand slam during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021, in Washington.  Credit: AP/Nick Wass

WASHINGTON — The Mets know they cannot fully replace Brandon Nimmo, who is out indefinitely with a strained right hamstring. But Kevin Pillar is going to try.

"Not playing all the time, it’s easy to sit on the bench and hope you get an opportunity. I’ve stayed ready for my opportunity," he said. "I’m fortunate Nimmo went down again. I’m prepared. I work every day as if I’m going to play every day."

Offensively, the dropoff is severe. Nimmo has been the Mets’ best hitter when healthy. Pillar is enduring a season that by some measures is his worst since his debut 2013 campaign, though he has been better lately, including a 2-for-4 effort with a grand slam Sunday.

Manager Luis Rojas’ hope is for Pillar to stop swinging at breaking balls in the dirt.

 

"He’s always been a free swinger," he said. "Being a veteran player at this point, it’s never too late to get better at plate discipline and swinging at more pitches in the zone."

Defensively, there might also be a dropoff. When Nimmo and Pillar have played together, the Mets have preferred Nimmo in center and Pillar in a corner spot.

"I don’t see it as that," Rojas said. "He’s going to go all-in on balls that go anywhere that he thinks are going to be in his range."

Three’s C-ompany

The Mets sent infielder Travis Blankenhorn back to Triple-A Syracuse, returning to 28 players after having 29 for the doubleheader Saturday.

That means they will carry three catchers: James McCann, Patrick Mazeika and Chance Sisco.

McCann was out of the lineup Sunday, which was the Mets’ plan for his second day back from the injured list. And Sisco was feeling "normal," he said, after a Friday night collision at the plate with Washington’s Andrew Stevenson.

Sisco, who said he has had a concussion in the past, experienced some fogginess but "wasn’t too worried about it" because "that one wasn’t near as bad." He also had a bruised left quad.

Javier Baez’s errant throw took Sisco up the third-base line, down which Stevenson was charging. Sisco had no qualms about the play.

"Really at no point did I realize I was going to get hit," he said. "I watched the replay, and there was kind of nothing you can do on both sides."

Extra bases

Jacob deGrom (right elbow inflammation) played catch from about 100 feet, another step toward throwing off a mound . . . Dominic Smith (bereavement list) is due back Monday or Tuesday . . . Robert Gsellman allowed three runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning for Low-A St. Lucie, the start of a rehab assignment. He has been out since June 21 with a torn right lat.

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