ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Like Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis won’t return from his finger injury as quickly as the Mets expected.
Luis Rojas had said that Davis could be activated as soon as Saturday. Instead, the manager revealed Saturday morning that Davis will spend a couple of more days with the Mets, then go on a minor-league rehabilitation assignment, a step the Mets previously hoped he could avoid.
Davis has been out since May 2 with a sprained left middle finger.
"He still feels a little bit [of pain] there," Rojas said. "It didn’t feel right to activate him . . . He’s at a better position/status than he was obviously at the beginning of this. It’s just at a point where everyone — the trainer, himself — said it’s better to go on a rehab assignment to test it."
Nimmo, meanwhile, was out of the lineup for Triple-A Syracuse for a second day in a row Saturday. His finger bothered him when he played Thursday.
Jeff McNeil did not play against the Rays on Saturday, but it is not clear why.
Rojas said the Mets were being "a little precautionary" with their second baseman, explaining that "we want to be safe" by resting him in the day game after the night game. That the Rays started a lefthander (Shane McClanahan) also was a factor, Rojas added.
But the rest didn’t quite add up. McNeil served as the designated hitter Friday and appeared not to be running at full speed on a double to left-center. That followed a team day off Thursday and a game on the bench Wednesday. On Tuesday, he was pulled because of what the Mets called "body cramps."
Is McNeil still feeling something in his legs/back?
"He doesn’t have anything like [Tuesday]," Rojas said. "We’re just right now trying to prevent anything from night to day with him, so we can have him back in there [Sunday]."
Preferring a backup who can play the infield and outfield, the Mets called up Jake Hager from Syracuse, sending outfielder Khalil Lee back in his place.
This is the 28-year-old Hager’s first time in the majors. His first at-bat — a game-ending lineout to centerfield — came against the Rays, the team that drafted him in the first round in 2011.
Hager was off to a hot start with Syracuse, slashing .405/.436/.703 with three home runs in nine games. He has played all four infield positions — mostly shortstop — and has dabbled with the outfield, including one start in center and one start in left this year.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Mets designated righthander Trevor Hildenberger for assignment.
Seth Lugo (right elbow bone chip surgery) will join Syracuse for a rehab assignment in the "next few days," Rojas said. He is expected to pitch in two to four games, including on back-to-back days, and join the Mets by the end of the month . . . Drew Smith’s first career start, two innings Saturday, also was his first appearance against the Rays, the team that traded him to the Mets in the 2017 deal for Lucas Duda.
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