PHILADELPHIA -- Injured Mets outfielder Juan Lagares came out of his first rehab game Monday feeling so strong that the Mets are now considering activating him from the disabled list as soon as Thursday, for the first of four games in Miami.
Initially, the Mets planned for Lagares to play five innings Monday, rest Tuesday and play again Wednesday, in the hopes of using him in back-to-back, nine-inning Minor League games before activating him. But a day after going 2-for-3 with a triple, a single, an RBI and a run scored, the center fielder returned to action Tuesday for Class A St. Lucie, putting him on track to make his season debut at some point in Miami.
The Mets have incentive to hasten Lagares' return, with the Marlins scheduled to start left-handers Wei-Yin Chen and Adam Conley on Thursday and Friday, followed by right-handers Saturday and Sunday. The right-handed Lagares' lifetime batting average is 24 percentage points better against lefties, while his OPS is 102 points better. The former Gold Glover also has plenty of experience patrolling Marlins Park's cavernous center field.
But the Mets will not activate Lagares until they are sure he is ready -- his left oblique healed and his timing at the plate restored. Lagares strained the muscle March 25, missing the final week of Spring Training and opening the regular season on the disabled list.
When Lagares does return, the Mets will face a tough roster decision. They can either option a reliever -- likely rookie Paul Sewald -- to Triple-A Las Vegas, returning to a standard five-man bench and seven-man bullpen. Or they can keep an extra pitcher in their bullpen, at the expense of either Michael Conforto or T.J. Rivera.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. 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.