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Mets' vaccination interest unclear after education session

A needle is filled from a phial of

A needle is filled from a phial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, England, on Tuesday. Credit: POOL/AFP via Getty Images/Owen Humphreys

PHILADELPHIA — Consider the Mets thoroughly educated on matters related to the COVID-19 vaccines, players participating Tuesday in a 45-minute, doctor-run class — complete with a PowerPoint — mandated by management after several players were publicly skeptical of being vaccinated.

Now, the Mets have to wait and see what the roster does with that information. The club has arranged for interested members of the traveling party to get the first of their two doses Thursday afternoon, after the home opener and before a day off Friday.

"It was extremely informative," Jeff McNeil said. "A lot of the guys learned some stuff and it’s something that definitely needed to be had."

After listening, will McNeil get the vaccine?

 

"To be honest, I'm actually not sure yet," he said. "It's a personal decision. I'm still looking at all the facts. The meeting today was pretty helpful and comforting. I know a lot of the guys are going to get vaccinated on Thursday, so I may be one of those. We just got to look at all the information and do what's best."

Dr. Kathryn McElheny, the Mets’ head team physician, enlisted a colleague from the Hospital of Special Surgery to speak to and take questions from the Mets. Among other specifics, they learned about the Pfizer vaccine — or "the mRNA" one, as manager Luis Rojas said — that they will receive.

"I was locked in," Rojas said.

MLB has said that if 85% of a team’s traveling party is inoculated, it can operate under relaxed restrictions. Rojas said he wasn’t sure if the Mets will reach that threshold, though he hopes they will.

"It's an extremely important topic and it's important for people to get vaccinated out there," McNeil said, "so hopefully we can get some guys to get vaccinated and help everyone out."

Davis damaged?

Third baseman J.D. Davis left the Mets-Phillies game in the second inning, moments after being hit by a pitch on his left hand, which appeared to cause him significant pain.

Initial X-rays were negative, Rojas said, but the Mets will send Davis for more tests Wednesday. The Mets called it a contusion and listed Davis as day-to-day. Luis Guillorme replaced him at third base.

He'll take it

McNeil was hit by a pitch eight times during spring training, by far the most in baseball. Only one other player — the Diamondbacks’ Tim Locastro — had more than four HBPs.

That is fine by McNeil.

"I don’t mind getting hit by the pitch. I get first base," he said. "My job is to get on base any way I can. It was a little unfortunate I got hit eight times in spring. I know none of them squared me up too good. Luckily no injuries. But it’s just part of the game."

McNeil struggled statistically during camp, hitting .109 with a .239 slugging percentage. He said he wasn’t worried about that because he hit the ball hard a lot — and even finished with a personal-best spring-training average hit speed.

That seemed to continue during the Mets’ Opening Day loss to the Phillies. McNeil went 0-for-4 but hit the ball an average of 104.2 mph.

"Those hits will start to drop," McNeil said.

First choices

Righthander Trevor May and lefthander Aaron Loup — who combined to blow an eighth-inning lead Monday — are the Mets’ top setup men, as their usage suggested, Rojas said.

"They’re guys that have pitched in a lot of high-leverage scenarios in their careers, in recent history, and they have the stuff to navigate through middle of the lineup and through tough hitters like Bryce Harper," Rojas said. "Those two guys might get saves for us, too, this season. We trust them highly."

Extra bases

SNY said that the Mets’ game Monday was the most-watched season opener in the network’s history. It also was the most-watched pro sports game out of 44 MLB, NBA and NHL contests on regional sports networks . . . When Jacob deGrom recorded the Mets’ first hit of the season Monday, he became the first pitcher in franchise history to do so. It hadn’t happened for any team since 2017, when Edinson Volquez did it for the Marlins . . . In honor of the Mets’ home opener Thursday, the Empire State Building will be lit up with orange and blue that night.

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