Despite hamstring strain, Parnell could debut this weekend

Despite hamstring strain, Parnell could debut this weekend

JUPITER, Fla. -- A minor left hamstring strain has sidetracked Bobby Parnell's return to the mound, but the Mets believe their former closer could appear in his first game since Tommy John surgery as soon as this weekend.

Manager Terry Collins said Parnell is as few as "three or four days" away from making his Grapefruit League debut, which was originally scheduled to occur Wednesday. The Mets never expected Parnell to be ready for Opening Day, with his latest setback making that even more of a certainty.

"He's made such great progress, we certainly aren't going to rush him right now," Collins said. "So we backed him down."

Parnell, 30, last pitched on Opening Day 2014, blowing a save and learning the next day that he had a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He underwent Tommy John surgery later in April, and he expects to be back late next month or early in May. Once Parnell returns, the Mets will need to decide if they want to reinstall him as closer or keep Jenrry Mejia in that role.

Despite his hamstring strain, Parnell has been throwing off flat ground regularly at Mets camp. He should return to a mound soon to make his spring debut.

"It's actually getting very close with him," pitching coach Dan Warthen said. "[He's] playing catch and there's no pain right now, so we're getting to that time where we're going to attack the mound again."

• First baseman Lucas Duda, who has been limited by a strained left intercostal muscle since the early days of camp, is tentatively scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut Sunday against the Rays.

• Infielder Ruben Tejada started at third base Wednesday for the first time in his professional career. Though Collins said he used Tejada there in part to increase his versatility coming off the bench, he also wanted to give prospect Matt Reynolds a full game at short. Prior to Wednesday, Tejada had only ever played shortstop and second base in professional games.

• Partially as a reward for his three-hit day last weekend, the Mets again borrowed 2014 first-round Draft pick Michael Conforto from Minor League camp for Wednesday's game in Jupiter. Conforto played the entire game in left field, finishing 1-for-5 with three strikeouts.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.