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Jeff McNeil making noteworthy progress, getting closer to return

Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil doubles during the

Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil doubles during the seventh inning against the Nationals at Citi Field on Aug. 11. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The hamstrung Mets are increasingly less so.

Jeff McNeil (strained left hamstring) and Robinson Cano (torn left hamstring) have been making noteworthy progress, with McNeil in particular nearing a return.

Eligible to come off the injured list Saturday, McNeil indicated he is uninhibited in his on-field activity. He ran the bases on Tuesday and on Wednesday took grounders at second and participated in batting practice on the field with the rest of the Mets.

Manager Mickey Callaway said the team will make a decision about whether McNeil needs a minor-league rehab assignment after his full day of baseball activities Wednesday. McNeil could feasibly join an affiliate Thursday — rehab assignments can start after five days — and still be activated after spending the minimum 10 days sidelined.

“We gotta talk to the player, he’s going to give his feedback to us,” Callaway said. “We’re going to make sure the performance department are all in line with what we want to do. And we have to make sure that we get him back and ready to go 100 percent.”

McNeil said: “I feel good.”

Cano isn’t as close to a return. He has hit on the field during early BP this week and, according to Callaway, will try running Thursday.

“If he comes in feeling good,” Callaway said.

Wilson down the stretch

Justin Wilson’s past few seasons have had a definitive trend: bad second halves, especially in September.

Last year, Wilson had a 5.17 ERA after the All-Star break and 7.50 ERA in the final month of the season. In 2017, those numbers were 4.94 and 8.10. The year before that, 4.97 and 4.70.

Wilson has become a key member of the Mets’ bullpen — posting a 1.13 ERA since returning from the IL on July 2 — and they will rely on him heavily with Robert Gsellman (partially torn lat) out potentially for the year.

Might Wilson’s own time on the IL with elbow trouble mean he is stronger and better prepared for the stretch run this year?

“That could definitely help,” Callaway said. “He had some time off and he looks better than I’ve ever seen him.”

The Mets are comfortable with using Wilson against righthanded batters in part because of the way his cutter plays against them. It looks like a fastball over the middle, Callaway said, until it cuts and gets in on hitters’ hands.

“Very effective pitch for him,” Callaway said. “And it gives us a lot of confidence — and him a lot of confidence — he can go out here and get righties out just as well as lefties.”

Lowrie gets day off

After beginning a rehab assignment with advanced Class A St. Lucie on Tuesday, infielder Jed Lowrie had a scheduled day off Wednesday, Callaway said. Lowrie will DH for St. Lucie again Thursday.

Asked when Lowrie, who has dealt with various leg injuries all season, might play in the field, Callaway said: “We’ll get through the DH (Thursday) and make that determination. Like everybody, you gotta lean on the player a little bit.”

Extra bases

Sitting in Amed Rosario’s locker for weeks: a pair of cleats with Cookie Monster on the heels. He plans to break them out this weekend for Players Weekend — when Major League Baseball temporarily relaxes its strict uniform rules — and has another pair, featuring another “Sesame Street” character, on the way. “I like Cookie Monster,” Rosario said . . . What has it been like for Callaway to watch Rosario figure it out? “You’re sitting there, he makes a good play and (Callaway and infield coach Gary DiSarcina) smile at each other,” Callaway said. “And you’re so happy for the individual, because all the hard work and optimism and his ability to come every day and play as hard as he can pays off.” . . . Tim Peterson, designated for assignment last week, was outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse . . . CBS’ “Madam Secretary” filmed a scene at Citi Field, with actress Tea Leoni throwing out the first pitch. Because of multiple takes, “Madam President” threw out four first pitches to Luis Guillorme.

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