Jonathan Villar avoids IL, but Mets still being ‘cautious’

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SAN DIEGO — Jonathan Villar managed to avoid the injured list Thursday, but the Mets will play it cautiously with the versatile infielder.

A day earlier, Villar departed with right hamstring tightness against the Diamondbacks, leaving a hole at third base and atop the lineup. Villar was on the bench against the Padres to start a four-game series, and manager Luis Rojas said he wasn’t sure in what capacity he might be used.

“We want to be cautious, especially with things that happened to us already this season, this past month,” Rojas said. “Jonathan has been such a valuable piece for us that we don’t want to lose him for the long term or the 10-day or anything like that. We just want to make sure he gets the treatment and that he’s right, and that way we can get him in there for a start.”

Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil are already on the injured list with hamstring strains. In McNeil’s case, the Mets tried to play it cautiously with him initially, but the hamstring worsened, and he needed the IL stint.

Jonathan Villar
Jonathan Villar

Brandon Drury started at third base, and Kevin Pillar moved to leadoff.

Pete Alonso was absent from the starting lineup for rest after playing three straight games following his removal from the injured list. Rojas equated the previous three games to a rehab assignment for Alonso, in which he would have received a day off after playing three days in a row.

“We have to make sure he’s fresh for three out of these four games, and why not give him the first game off, and he should be available to come off the bench and maybe double-switch or an at-bat if he’s needed,” Rojas said.

Joey Lucchesi will start Friday night’s game for the Mets, putting him on the mound against his former team. The Mets acquired the left-hander last winter in a three-way deal that also involved the Pirates.

“Of course, I want to strike every one of those guys out,” Lucchesi said.

Luis Guillorme was slated to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Syracuse, and if all goes well could return in about a week, according to Rojas. The backup infielder has spent over a month on the IL rehabbing from a strained oblique.

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