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Jeff McNeil Mets on infield during spring training close crop

Jeff McNeil Mets on infield during spring training close crop

When the Mets‘ lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Phillies in Philadelphia came out and Jeff McNeil wasn’t in it, eyebrows were raised.

So much so that the first question manager Luis Rojas got during his pregame availability was about whether there was something wrong with McNeil health-wise.

“Everything’s well with McNeil,” Rojas told reporters via Zoom. “We’re just giving a chance to Jonathan Villar to get in there and have a start and play some second for us. Everything is good with McNeil. He’ll be good to go off the bench. We’re trying to get everyone involved in a start.”

McNeil, who has been hitting lower in the order than usual so far this season, has not gotten a hit during the first two games. But he hit into very hard luck during Monday’s season-opener, spraying line drives all over the field that found gloves.

Asked why the Mets chose Wednesday to sit McNeil, Rojas said it was a matter of getting a start for Villar.

“It’s simply getting Villar in there,” Rojas said. “Mac will be available off the bench, like I said. We want to get everyone involved as early as we can in the season and keep everyone active. I think now the only two guys [who haven’t started] are (Albert) Almora Jr. and (Tomas) Nido. (James) McCann felt good to start today. We’ll keep checking the guys out as far as starting, but we do want to keep everyone involved as far as starting games.”

Added Rojas:

“We want to get Jonathan involved, too. Jonathan is a force. He can do some damage from both sides of the plate. He can play a good second base, can play a good shortstop for us. To get him involved in games as well gives us a pretty good lineup and balance.”

Rojas said that he expects McNeil to be in the lineup on Thursday when the Mets face the Miami Marlins in their home opener at Citi Field.

But Rojas stressed that the way the team is built this season will allow for everyone to contribute in the lineup at one point or another.

“There’s depth on this team,” he said. “Guys can come in and start a game and help us win.”