Mets’ Jeff McNeil looks on after flying out to end...

Mets’ Jeff McNeil looks on after flying out to end the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in an MLB baseball game at Citi Field on Wednesday, May 29, 2024. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

LONDON — Jeff McNeil isn’t happy about being benched but vowed to “be ready to go” for his expected return to the lineup — for the first time in a week — on Sunday.

Jose Iglesias started at second base for a fourth straight game and fifth of the past seven in the Mets’ 7-2 loss to the Phillies on Saturday.

Manager Carlos Mendoza insisted “this is not a platoon” but then described it as exactly that, at least in the short term: Iglesias playing against lefthanders, McNeil against righthanders.

That the Mets have faced four consecutive lefty starters is highly unusual. The Phillies’ pitcher Sunday, Taijuan Walker, is a righthander. But they might face three more southpaws in their three-game series against the Marlins this week.

Iglesias is batting .409 in six games.

“We have a righthanded second baseman now, so he hits lefthanders,” McNeil, owner of a .227 average, said at London Stadium before the game.

He has never sat against lefties before, though.

“We’ve also never had a backup second baseman who is a righthanded hitter,” McNeil said. “So, yeah. He’s playing against lefties.”

Does he agree with Mendoza’s decision?

“I don’t have a choice,” he said. “He makes the lineup and I respect that. I’ll be ready to go.”

Mendoza said: “I’m going to continue to say Jeff McNeil is our second baseman . . . It’s not an easy situation. This is the first time that he’s healthy and he hasn’t played in four, five games straight. But he’s a professional. He’ll continue to work. He’ll continue to get better and he’ll be ready to go when his name is called.”

That the Mets were facing a string of lefthanders was one of the public reasons the Mets offered for demoting lefthanded-hitting third baseman Brett Baty on May 31.

“That’s how the schedule goes,” McNeil said. “I don’t control who pitches for the other team.”

Senga still not close

Mendoza acknowledged what had long since become obvious: Kodai Senga (strained right shoulder) won’t pitch for the Mets before the All-Star break in a month.

Realistically, August appears more likely.

According to Mendoza, Senga remains in the catch/long toss phase of his buildup, with plans to advance to a bullpen session early this week, b

ut there is no telling how long that stage will last.

“I wish I could tell you,” Mendoza said.

Mind the gap

The Mets’ loss to the Phillies dropped them to 17 1⁄2 games behind the Phillies in the NL East standings.

Does the gap feel that wide when they’re on the field?

“Well, they’re a good team. They’re a complete team,” Mendoza said.

“Their lineup is really good, one through nine. They got starting pitching. Their bullpen is good. The standings are the standings. You can’t deny those. We got a good team, obviously, but they’re deep. They’re deep. It’s a good team.”

Extra bases

When Luis Torrens threw out Bryce Harper trying to steal second, he passed Omar Narvaez’s season total in fewer than one-fifth of the games. Torrens has three; Narvaez had two . . . Harrison Bader on playing on London Stadium’s turf, which yielded several big hops on balls to the outfield: “It’s a fun little — I definitely run a little faster. It’s more springy. That’s always a good feeling.” . . . Mets owner Steve Cohen is scheduled to speak to reporters Sunday morning.


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