Cabrera says knee is 'strong' after return to lineup

Shortstop plays in his first Grapefruit League contest since March 10

Cabrera says knee is 'strong' after return to lineup

JUPITER, Fla. -- Asked Monday if anything challenged him during his first Grapefruit League game since straining his left knee two and a half weeks ago, Asdrubal Cabrera shook his head.

"My knee feels strong," Cabrera said after going 0-for-3 in the Mets' 3-1 loss to the Cardinals, playing five innings at shortstop. "All I have to do is keep doing what I'm doing, working every day to get ready for the season."

Though the season may be rapidly approaching, now just six days away, Cabrera figures that's more than enough time to round into game shape. The Mets have two more Grapefruit League contests plus a pair of additional exhibitions in Las Vegas, and Cabrera intends to play shortstop in three of those four games.

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His presence alone on Monday was enough to shake off any last worries that Cabrera would not be ready for Opening Night in Kansas City. Because the Mets forfeited their ability to backdate a potential disabled list stint by playing Cabrera in Monday's game, they waited to do so until they were sure of his health.

"He said his legs were real heavy today, but otherwise I thought he took some good swings," manager Terry Collins said of Cabrera, who joined the Mets on a two-year deal this winter. "He looked comfortable, which is a good sign."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.