ATLANTA — Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil were added to the crowded Mets injured list with respective hamstring strains, a source familiar with the situation told the Daily News.
As a result, outfielders Johneshwy Fargas and Khalil Lee were called up from Triple-A Syracuse. To make room for Fargas on the 40-man roster, Seth Lugo was transferred to the 60-day IL. The team officially announced the moves a couple of hours before first pitch against the Braves on Monday.
Conforto and McNeil joined Jacob deGrom, Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis, Albert Almora, Luis Guillorme, Dellin Betances, Jose Martinez, Carlos Carrasco, Seth Lugo and Noah Syndergaard, making up 12 Mets players on the IL, just 35 games into the 2021 season.
“Very, very frustrating,” Conforto, appearing significantly dejected and gloomy, said of the bad timing of his hamstring strain. “I feel like that’s the only way I can put it. It’s just very frustrating.”
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Conforto (right hamstring) and McNeil (left hamstring) had MRIs on Monday morning in Atlanta, which revealed the strains. The severity of the strains is still unclear while the Mets continue to receive multiple opinions on the injuries. One assessment may not come until Tuesday, per a source.
For now, Rojas described the approach to their injuries as “week-to-week.”
“It sucks to have some of the guys go down,” Francisco Lindor said. “You want them to come back as soon as possible. But this is definitely a good opportunity for new guys to come in and show what they’re capable of doing and give some time to the guys that are down to recover and come back stronger and help us win.”
Conforto left Sunday’s game against the Rays in the first inning after sprinting down the first-base line on an inning-ending double-play ball. He immediately grabbed his right hamstring after he stretched for the bag and gingerly walked off with a Mets trainer. Conforto said he felt his hamstring “grab” on him.
“I had been keeping some things in check,” Conforto said on whether his hamstring was previously bothersome. “My low back and sometimes my hammies would be tight. My calf was still a little tight from the collision with [Kevin] Pillar. And just trying to stay ahead of those things. Felt like I had a good grip on all that stuff.”
McNeil beat out an infield single leading off as the designated hitter Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field before he departed with the hamstring injury. He was already dealing with body cramps since last Tuesday, when he left the Mets’ game against the Orioles after pulling up lame on a single. Manager Luis Rojas said Sunday he did not believe McNeil was playing through a minor injury in St. Petersburg, Fla. this past weekend.
Fargas, who made his first major-league start vs. the Braves on Monday in center field, and Lee, who has never played a big-league game, are vital replacements on an already thin bench. The Mets played with a one-man bench Sunday against the Rays after Conforto and McNeil exited early with injuries. Davis is working his way back from a left hand sprain and will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday. Nimmo is sidelined from any swinging-related baseball activity until his left index finger bone bruise is 100% pain-free.
“We’re getting to see some young guys come up and get their feet wet,” Conforto said. “They’ll be excited to be here. They’ll bring some energy, they’ll bring speed, they’ll bring a lot of things that can be really valuable in these situations.”
Conforto has not yet been told what, if any, baseball activity he can participate in while on the IL. Though, based on his body language 24 hours after he sustained the hamstring strain, it appeared as if he knew his injury would need a significant time to heal.
The right fielder will become a free agent at the end of the 2021 season if a contract extension with the Mets is not completed during the year. Conforto had recently turned the corner at the plate after an early-season slump. He had 10 RBI and two home runs with 13 walks in 20 games from April 22 to May 15.
“At this point, I’m just looking to move forward, crush the rehab and do everything I can to get back healthy first and then as quickly as I can,” he said.