Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil doubles against the Giants during...

Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil doubles against the Giants during the third inning of an MLB game at Citi Field on Thursday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

MIAMI — Buck Showalter expects Jeff McNeil to return to the lineup imminently — for real this time.

The Mets’ manager said he is confident McNeil will be back Tuesday, when the Mets play the Astros at Citi Field, after he sat out the past five games while dealing with a right hamstring injury. He was sidelined, but remained on the active roster, for the entire road trip after getting hurt last Monday in the last game of the previous homestand.

Showalter maintained in recent days that McNeil was available to pinch hit. He was not used in any role off the bench.

“Mac’s got his helmet and his batting gloves on earlier each day,” said Showalter, who previously expected McNeil back over the weekend. “Yesterday from the fifth inning on, he was looking at me with those longing eyes. We’ve probably been maybe a day cautious, just to be sure. We’re in that ‘let’s be sure’ mode.”

McNeil is one of the Mets’ leading All-Star candidates, hitting .327 with a .386 OBP and .465 slugging percentage. The lineup hasn’t been the same without him, averaging 3.4 runs (down from their highest mark of 4.9).

Scherzer sighting

Max Scherzer’s next rehabilitation appearance will be Tuesday with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, who will be playing in Hartford.

That is neither a home game for the Mets’ affiliate nor is it geographically the closest option for Scherzer, who is working his way back from a strained left oblique. But he will get to throw to catcher Francisco Alvarez, the Mets’ top prospect, who has been raking in Double-A.

 

As the rotation turns

Carlos Carrasco, who left his most recent outing early because of tightness in his lower back, said he threw his between-starts bullpen session without issue and is set to pitch against the Astros again Tuesday at Citi Field.

Taijuan Walker will get the finale of the two-game set Wednesday. Chris Bassitt will open the Rangers series Friday.

With three days off in a span of eight, the Mets can get by with a four-man rotation for a turn or so.

Extra bases

Colin Holderman struck out two in a perfect inning for Triple-A Syracuse, his first rehab appearance on the way back from a right shoulder impingement .  .  . With a scoreless eighth inning against the Marlins, Tommy Hunter maintained his perfect 0.00 Mets ERA, now over 12 innings (across two seasons) .  .  . Saturday and Sunday marked the first time this season that the Mets had the same batting order and defensive alignment in consecutive games.