PHILADELPHIA — The Mets spent part of Tuesday listening to an expert on vaccines educate them on the COVID-19 vaccines.
This session, planned by the team, aimed to not only provide factual information but also to answer questions players had about the vaccines.
“Just getting to talk about it for an hour,” Jeff McNeil said, “a lot of the guys learned some stuff and it’s something that definitely needed to be had.”
Manager Luis Rojas said Dr. Kathryn McElheny, whom the Mets recently promoted to head team physician, found an expert from the Hospital for Special Surgery to do a live Zoom presentation for the team.
Among the topics covered, per Rojas: Which vaccine will be available to the team starting after Thursday’s game (Pfizer), the other vaccines and the research done on them.
“I thought it was really good,” Rojas said. “I was locked in, I thought I got a lot from it.”
The Mets will have access to the Pfizer vaccine, but will they take it?
Rojas said he plans to get vaccinated. His players have seemed hesitant, as noted by president Sandy Alderson on Monday.
McNeil said he has not talked to many teammates about whether or not they will be vaccinated, but “it was just nice to see all the information and the studies being done” through the presentation.
“It’s an extremely important topic and it’s important for people to get vaccinated out there, so hopefully we can get some guys to get vaccinated and help everyone out,” McNeil said.
Will McNeil receive the shot?
“To be honest, I’m actually not sure yet,” he said. “It’s a personal decision. I’m still looking at all the facts. The meeting today was pretty helpful and comforting. I know a lot of the guys are going to get vaccinated on Thursday so I may be one of those. We just got to look at all the information and do what’s best.”
Major League Baseball and the union have incentivized this process. If 85 percent of a team’s Tier 1 employees receive vaccines, the league will loosen COVID-19 restrictions for that club.
The Mets hope to reach that percentage, Rojas said.
“Right now we’re encouraging the guys (to get vaccinated),” Rojas said. “I think this video, personally, helped a lot today to educate us. We encouraged the guys to go and do it and to get to that percentage. But that’s something that we’ll have to wait and see.”
A perfect play
Sometimes, the boring stuff becomes important.
The perfect example came in Monday night’s season opener: Toward the beginning of spring training, the Mets did a cutoffs and relays walkthrough in which they did not hit an actual ball. No, they only placed one in the outfield because they wanted players to work on aligning themselves, looking back for the throw and communicating with one another during these situations.
It paid off in Monday’s first inning, when Rhys Hoskins smoked a ball off the wall. It almost went out, but Kevin Pillar instead fielded it perfectly off the wall and flung it to Jeff McNeil, who made what he called “one of the better throws of my career” to get Hoskins at third base.
“Everything,” Rojas said when asked about the most satisfying part of that relay play.
You had Pillar fielding it and making a great throw to McNeil. You had McNeil smoothly transferring the ball from his glove to make his own throw, which was on the money. Both throws, Rojas said, were chest-high — perfect.
“It came out of my hand perfectly,” McNeil said. “As soon as it left my hand, I knew we had him.”
As McNeil looked back for the throw from Pillar, he heard shortstop Francisco Lindor yelling: “Three! Three! Three!”
“He’s always talking,” McNeil said. “His communication is pretty incredible. He’s aware of everything going on in the game, so it’s nice to have somebody over at shortstop who’s like that and can help guide you through a game.”
Is it fair to say Trevor May and Aaron Loup will be the Mets’ primary setup men (at least in Seth Lugo’s absence)?
“Yes, yes,” Rojas said. “They are.”
The team signed both over the offseason. In the eighth on Monday, Rojas went to May. When he didn’t get the job done, the manager opted for the left-handed Loup.
Proof of the excitement
Here is some proof of the excitement surrounding the 2021 Mets:
According to SNY, Monday’s season opener ranked as the most viewed season opener in network history in total viewers (413,004) and in the demographic of Adults 25-54 (160,143). In addition, the Mets-Phillies game, SNY said, was the most watched professional sports game out of 44 MLB, NBA and NHL games that aired on regional sports networks across the country on Monday.
Monday marked the 16th Mets opener that has aired on SNY.
The most recent one outdid all of its predecessors in viewership, a testament to the hype surrounding this year’s Mets.
Justin Toscano is the Mets beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Mets analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and download our app.
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