Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling were back in the virtual SNY booth on Tuesday night to call game No. 36 of the season between the Mets and the Cincinnati Reds, and they were joined by a special guest.
Mets third baseman Jeff McNeil joined the crew for a few innings on Tuesday night to talk about a number of baseball topics (You can skip ahead to around the 45-minute mark in the video below to jump to when McNeil joins). Meanwhile, virtual McNeil delivered at the plate, hitting a pair of home runs in the Mets' win.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from what McNeil had to say during Tuesday night's stream:
On staying in shape and his daily workout routine during MLB's hiatus
"One of the main things I've been doing - I've just got to keep my body in shape. I've got to stay strong. I've got to keep my weight on, and just be kind of strong and ready for whenever spring training starts back up again. I don't need - I think they're going to give us kind of a two-to-three weeks heads-up, you know, 'You guys are coming back.' Once we hear that, it doesn't take me a long time, especially hitting, to get ready. So two weeks before spring training starts I'll be swinging the bat a lot and then once spring training starts, I need a week or so of ABs, so I should be ready to go. Basically, the main thing for me right now is keeping my body in shape and kind of maintaining my strength that I put on in the offseason.
"Basically, I wake up and I go to the Nimmos. They've got a little kind of garage gym so I'll go over there and get my workout in and then play catch a little bit. I'll hit once or twice a week right now just to kind of stay swinging and make sure it's not a surprise to my body when we start doing it again a lot. It's not a lot right now … I've been running. Got to keep the legs in shape. You know I had the hamstring stuff last year so I'm making sure those are strong and I have no problems this year. So I've been running a lot and should be ready to go when the time comes.
"We've got a cage down the road we can go to. We just have a tee and (Tomas) Nido's got a little net at his house. He lives right down the road too, so we can go over there and tee balls and little side toss flips into the net. There's not a whole lot we can do with the complex closed, but hopefully they open that up soon and we can get down there and start taking some batting practice again.
"I think I can get ready about a week, a week of live pitching. I would imagine we'd come back and start doing some live BPs. That's good just for like tracking, but … once spring training games start, that's where you really get a feel for how you're seeing the ball and how you're feeling at the plate. … Hopefully, I can start off camp hot again and be ready for the season."
On his preference of where to hit in the order
"I like hitting leadoff. I would hit one or two. It just kind of depends. I like hitting leadoff because that first pitch of the game I can tag. Pitchers are usually throwing fastballs early in the game, so I like to swing early. However, I like batting second too because if you get somebody like (Brandon) Nimmo on base, (Amed) Rosario, we can kind of make stuff happen. Rosario can steal a bag, Nimmo can steal a bag, and if I'm hitting with that hole open at first base, I love that. That's one of my favorite things to do is to get that big four whole, try to yank a ball in it and try to make something happen early in the game.
"When I'm up there and there's a runner on first base, I'm on the plate a lot so I'm kind of looking for that pitch middle in and just trying to yank it and be a dead pull hitter then. … I do everything I can to make it 1-0 in the first inning."
On his two-homer virtual performance against the Reds in MLB The Show
"My one complaint about this is they made me too slow in the game. I think I'm faster than a 51 speed. I get a good amount of infield singles. So there were some balls I hit in the Players League where there's no way I'm grounding into a double play and they were like so routine. I think they've got to make me faster.
"But yeah I think I've hit 9, 10 home runs so far, I'll take that. My average is a little low. I don't want it to be at .250 of wherever it is, so hopefully I can get up there and back into the .300s where I want to be."
Witnessing the second home run: "When I face lefties, my approach is I expect a lot of breaking balls so like I always kind of look at my front hip - Oh did I just go yard? Oh let's go! 402 (feet), 101 (mph) off the bat? I'll take that. I don't hit a lot of homers off lefties. I feel comfortable off lefties just hitting for average and then I'll take my power numbers off righties, so any homer off a lefty I'll take.
"I have more home runs now than (Pete Alonso). I've got 11 and he's got nine … Just gotta get that average up and we'll be good."
On adding power in Triple A and in second half of 2019
"I think it just came. I put on a lot of strength, a lot of size and weight, and I think with that the power numbers jumped. When I went to Double A in 2018, I wanted to hit with some power. I knew that was the one thing kind of lacking in my game. Got off to an extremely hot start, hitting the ball out of the ballpark, and still hit for a high average. So nothing really changed from like 2015-16, I was just a lot weaker and skinnier and just didn't really have that home run power. I was able to get in the gym, work extremely hard, and that was kind of the one thing that changed my career."
On his disciplined approach at the plate
"I think it was just something I developed when I was really young. Back when I was in little league I hated striking out. I would strike out once or twice a year and I would lose my mind when it happened. It was just something I've always done. I always hated swinging and missing. Just want to put the ball in play. It's just something that I developed at an early age and carried it all through college and all through the minor leagues and up to the big leagues."