ATLANTA — The Mets’ hopes of building off their blistering stretch of winning took a discouraging turn on Wednesday when Jeff McNeil, the All-Star infielder-outfielder, was placed on the 10-day injured list with a mild left hamstring strain.
McNeil, who is hitting .332 with 15 homers and a .400 on-base percentage, sustained the injury in the ninth inning Tuesday as he stretched to reach first base on a groundout. McNeil hopped awkwardly after crossing the bag, came to a stop in foul territory and grabbed his left leg.
He underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Wednesday morning, and the Mets summoned Ruben Tejada from Class AAA Syracuse to replace him.
McNeil said after Tuesday’s game — a 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves — that he did not feel a pop in his leg, classifying the discomfort as “a little snag.” He said he hoped the tests would show nothing more than a cramp, but now he will be ineligible to play until Aug. 24 (a home game with Atlanta) at the earliest. He will miss the Mets’ next two series, against the Royals in Kansas City, Mo., and at home against the Cleveland Indians.
After hitting .349 before the All-Star break, McNeil has hit just .287 since. But his on-base plus slugging was exceptional, at .962, and he had played in every game. The Mets won 21 of their first 27 games after the break, but have lost their last two and began Wednesday two games out of a wild-card spot and nine games behind the Braves in the National League East.
McNeil is only the latest Met to be placed on the injured list with a hamstring injury this month; second baseman Robinson Cano tore his left hamstring in Pittsburgh on Aug. 4 and could miss significant time. McNeil had made three starts at second in Cano’s absence, while also playing left and right field.
Left fielder Dominic Smith, who was hitting .278 with 10 homers this season, has been out since late July with a stress reaction in his left foot. The injury is expected to keep Smith sidelined until mid-September, further limiting the Mets’ options.
Tejada, 29, has not played for the Mets since their 2015 division series, when he broke his fibula on a takeout slide by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chase Utley in Game 2. Tejada split the next season between St. Louis and San Francisco, and last played in the majors with Baltimore in 2017. He was hitting .330 with six home runs in 71 games for Syracuse.