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McNeil and Hoskins get heated after hard slide in Brewers-Mets opener

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NEW YORK (AP) — Even on a new team in a different division, it took all of one game for Rhys Hoskins to rile up the New York Mets.

Tempers flared Friday during the season opener at Citi Field when the Milwaukee Brewers newcomer — who agitated the Mets during his days with the NL East rival Phillies — slid hard into second baseman Jeff McNeil on a potential double-play ball in the eighth inning.

“Just a late slide. We’ve had a little bit of a past so I knew there was a chance that he’d be coming in like that,” McNeil said after Milwaukee’s 3-1 victory. “Didn’t like his slide. I wasn’t trying to turn a double play at all. Just trying to catch the ball. There was no need to break it up.”

McNeil was visibly angry after the play, gesturing and yelling down at Hoskins as the Milwaukee slugger was on the ground. Hoskins got up and headed for the Brewers’ dugout, but both benches and bullpens spilled onto the field.

Hoskins said he kept his cleats down on the slide and he thought McNeil overreacted.

“I’m just trying to play baseball, right?” Hoskins said. “The last thing I want to do is give them a clear lane to make a double play. So, a certain someone took — McNeil took (exception) to my slide, but I didn’t really think much of it, to be honest. I ended up hitting him, but that’s what happens with a slow-developing play.”

The teams stayed separated and there was no pushing and shoving, though Hoskins rubbed his eyes as if to call McNeil a crybaby, and McNeil cursed at Hoskins from across the diamond.

“A few choice words. But, you know, I’ve played in this ballpark a bunch, and he just seems to be complaining when things aren’t going well and I think that’s kind of one of those moments,” Hoskins said. “Maybe lost in the heat of the game a little bit. But again, I think it was just playing the game hard and playing the game the right way.”

Even before Hoskins hit McNeil’s leg, McNeil bobbled the ball as he attempted to transfer it to his throwing hand following third baseman Brett Baty’s low throw. So there was no relay to first.

“He’s had some pretty questionable slides at second base, for sure,” McNeil said. “Definitely remember looking at some in the past that were definitely not OK. So I knew there was a possibility that might happen. And it did.”

Hoskins said after the play, he initially stayed down in the dirt to let McNeil vent.

“I kind of like laid there afterward. A couple of guys said, I thought maybe you hurt yourself. But I was just kind of letting whatever McNeil needed to get out, let him get it out,” Hoskins said. “And I just kind of ran off the field after that, and got to see everybody on the team out there.”

Hoskins and the Mets have had issues before. New York reliever Jacob Rhame threw up and in on Hoskins a couple of times in 2019, and the slugger took 34 seconds to trot around the bases on a home run against the Mets.

Hoskins missed last season with Philadelphia because of a knee injury, then signed a $34 million, two-year contract with Milwaukee in January to become the team’s new first baseman.

“You get a guy who misses a year and that’s horrible to see. And then you go right back and try to put a spike into someone’s leg. It’s tough,” McNeil said. “Don’t want to wish injury on anyone. It’s tough seeing him miss a year. Felt extremely bad when I saw him go down. Just a tough circumstance there.”

The Mets challenged the play for a slide violation, but the call stood following a replay review.

“It’s a late slide. Obviously, we didn’t like it, Jeff didn’t like it, but it’s legal,” Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. “He held onto the base and it’s considered legal. Apparently there’s some history there between them, too, and that’s what got Jeff heated there.”

Asked if he thought the slide was clean or dirty, McNeil said: “It was a legal slide, so I just want to leave it at that.”

McNeil also said he’s not looking for any retribution the rest of the weekend.

“I hope not. I don’t want this to be something,” he said. “I just want to go out and play good baseball and try to win the series.”

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB

By MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Baseball Writer

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