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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Mets could build a terrific lineup out of their banged-up players — a sizable, injured group that welcomed two members on Sunday, one new and one old. While the club considers its growing number of hurt players, they must also deal with the aftereffects of getting swept at Tropicana Field.
Michael Conforto left the Mets’ 7-1 loss to the Rays in the first inning with “right hamstring tightness,” the team announced. Utility-man Jake Hager, who made his major-league debut on Saturday, replaced Conforto in right field.
Jeff McNeil, already working his way back from what the Mets described as “body cramps,” also left the game in the third inning with “left hamstring tightness,” the team announced. McNeil was the designated hitter in the interleague matchup on Sunday, and backup catcher Patrick Mazeika took over for him at DH batting leadoff.
The legend of Mazeika grew even more powerful when he put the Mets’ only run on the board in the sixth with a solo shot to right field, his first major-league hit. The last Met to home run for his first major-league hit was current pitching coach Jeremy Hefner in 2012. Mazeika notably collected his first career RBI with two fielder’s choice walk-offs just five days apart earlier this month.
In a risky development, the only remaining player on the Mets’ bench for the rest of the game was catcher Tomas Nido. That’s it.
Conforto, batting third, sprinted down the first-base line on a double-play ball in his first at-bat against Tampa Bay left-hander Josh Fleming. As he stretched for the bag, he hopped, came up lame and grabbed his right hamstring. Conforto gingerly walked off the field alongside a trainer.
McNeil beat out an infield single to leadoff the first inning, sprinting down the first-base line and stretching his right leg out to reach the base. He remained in the game until the inning was over. McNeil’s return to the lineup Sunday was short-lived, and though he had said his cramps were behind him, the Mets were being “precautionary” by keeping him at DH and away from playing in the field, per Rojas.
If Conforto and McNeil land on the injured list, they would join Jacob deGrom, Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis, Albert Almora, Luis Guillorme, Dellin Betances, Jose Martinez, Carlos Carrasco, Seth Lugo and Noah Syndergaard among the wounded.