Like many Mets, Jeff McNeil is down in Port St. Lucie early to gear up for the start of spring training. Position players don't have to report until the end of the week, but that hasn't stopped many from getting a head start.
McNeil also comes into spring training with a more defined role than he had last season. Though he played very well in a super-utility role, the 27-year-old is expected to be the Mets' everyday third baseman. And it's something that he believes will make this spring simpler as he prepares for the 2020 regular season.
"Yeah, a little bit," he said on Monday morning. "I think for the most part I'll be at third base, I'm not 100 percent sure about that yet. But, yeah, kinda know what I'm doing this year so makes it a little bit easier."
McNeil added that he came into 2019 spring training believing his focus needed to be on left field, where he spent a lot of time last season. But with injuries to Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie, he ended up starting at third base on Opening Day.
MLB Network's "The Shredder" actually ranked McNeil as the league's fifth-best third baseman, even after playing just 31 games at the position last season. And a lot of that has to do with his bat
No matter what position McNeil plays, the Mets are simply happy his hitting capabilities are in their lineup. After hitting .329 over 63 games in his rookie season in 2018, McNeil followed that performance up with a .318/.384/.531 slash line with 23 homers and 75 RBI over his first full MLB season a year ago. At one point, the National League batting title chase was being led by McNeil, but Christian Yelich eventually took the crown at the end of the year.
McNeil responded "not really" when asked about if he sets personal goals on the season, but he does want to continue building his name as one of the toughest outs to get in MLB.
"I want to build on last year," he said. "Going in really confident this year so hopefully I can go out there every single day, play well, and the numbers at the end of the year are a little better.
"Individual goals are nice, but we want to play well as a team."
McNeil's confidence will be featured mostly at the hot corner for New York. But, with injuries and other things happening over a full 162-game season, you can bet that McNeil will be bouncing around as Luis Rojas sees fit in his lineup.
And McNeil will be ready for it when it happens.
"I just kinda go out there and do my thing no matter where they put me, whether it's left, right, second or third. Just try to be as prepared as possible," he said.