PORT ST. LUCIE — Jeff McNeil hasn’t officially been told he’s the Mets’ everyday third baseman, but he’s preparing toward that eventuality.
Last spring McNeil worked out in left field, but injuries to Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie moved him to third base early in the season. Frazier returned to become the primary third baseman, with McNeil largely in the outfield. Now McNeil is the Mets’ best option at third — a position he expects will be less demanding physically than the outfield.
“Just kind of knowing where you are going to be every single day, you’re going to be at third, you kind of know what it takes,” McNeil said Monday. “[You] know how your body feels and we have a great training staff here to help me get through anything, so I am looking forward to it.”
McNeil contended for the NL batting title for much of last season, but a late slump dropped his average from the .340s to .318. Still, McNeil brought surprise pop to the lineup with 23 homers.
“I think I was kind of two different hitters last year,” McNeil said. “I mean, there was nothing I did that changed, it’s just how it was. I hit a little more home runs in the second half than the first. I hit a little higher average in the first, but nothing changed. I just kind of what happened so we’ll see how it is this year.”
Mets COO Jeff Wilpon issued a statement in the aftermath of the failed negotiations between the Sterling Partners and Steve Cohen, who was attempting to become the team’s majority owner.
“As spring training begins, on behalf of ownership, we would like to share more information explaining why the proposed transaction has ended,” Wilpon said. “However, due to confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements we are unable to do so at this time. So right now, I believe we need to focus on the future and not in the past and that’s what we intend to do.
“We would like to assure our fans that we will continue our commitment to winning in 2020 and beyond and we’ll work hard to earn and maintain everyone’s confidence and trust. We’ll be moving forward to find a new transaction. We will not be giving details or updates on the timeline or process until we are prepared to make a public announcement. Thank you, that’s all I can say for now.”
In dropping from 270 pounds to 240 this winter, Jeurys Familia said his intake of Dominican food — mostly fried chicken and rice — decreased.
“I was really overweight,” Familia said. “Most seasons I would be around 240 or 245, so I didn’t realize I had gotten that far overweight, so I just wanted to come back and be at the same weight I was tor the rest of my career.”