The team also placed backup catcher Tomas Nido on the seven-day injured list with a concussion and selected the contract of veteran catcher Rene Rivera from Triple-A Syracuse. Reserve outfielder Aaron Altherr was designated for assignment.
McNeil missed 10 days with a strained left hamstring and returned on the first day he was eligible to come off the IL. He delivered a pinch-hit double on the first pitch he saw leading off the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves and remained in the game at second base.
"Feels normal. A lot better than it did,'' McNeil said before the game. "No worries about playing.''
New York began the day two games out of a wild-card spot.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway said McNeil will be back in the starting lineup Sunday afternoon, probably at second base.
"It was one of those things ... we can activate him, but he probably needs to only pinch-hit or get double-switched in. And then tomorrow he'll be full availability,'' Callaway said. "So we figured having him off the bench was better than not having him at all.''
McNeil also was out from May 22 to June 3 with left hamstring tightness, but said this recovery was a lot quicker.
"It felt great faster. The last one was kind of bugging me for a little longer,'' McNeil said. "So I was really happy with how the recovery went, and ready to get back out there.''
McNeil, who made the All-Star team this year in his first full major league season, entered the night batting an NL-best .332 with 15 homers, 55 RBIs and a sparkling .929 OPS in 105 games.
His versatility has also been extremely valuable to the Mets: McNeil has started 36 games in left field, 35 in right, 19 at second base and six at third. He'll continue to be used at those four positions down the stretch, Callaway said.
"I think that we'll be able to move him around strategically to help keep guys fresh and keep the guys playing that should be playing,'' the manager explained.
McNeil played two rehab games in the minors before coming off the IL.
Nido was slammed in the back of the head by Josh Donaldson's backswing Friday night while trying to throw out a stealing runner in the sixth inning. He was checked by a trainer and initially remained in the game but was replaced the next inning by regular starter Wilson Ramos.