ATLANTA -- Once feared lost for the season, a number of Mets players are progressing quickly from injuries and could make it back by the end of September.
Outfielder Juan Lagares, first baseman Lucas Duda, and starting pitchers Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz have all either taken recent steps forward in their rehabilitation programs from various injuries, or plan to in the coming days. The Mets retain hope that all of them can help the club in October, if not before.
Most likely to return are deGrom and Matz, who are nursing a right forearm strain and a left shoulder impingement, respectively. Matz is scheduled to throw off a mound on Saturday for the first time since his last start nearly a month ago, putting him on track for a mid- to late-September return. deGrom played catch off flat ground Friday for the first time since the team shut him down early this month.
"I really, truly think that they both might be a part of this here real soon," manager Terry Collins said.
In other rotation news, the Mets pushed back Seth Lugo's start from Saturday to Sunday, giving him an extra day to rest a blister on one of his fingers. Bartolo Colon will shift from Sunday to Saturday to replace Lugo.
Perhaps most intriguing are the statuses of Lagares and Duda, who could both return this month. Duda, who has not played since May due to a stress fracture in his lower back, is scheduled to take live batting practice on Saturday. That is typically the final step players take before entering game action.
Lagares, meanwhile, continues to mend from a surgically repaired ligament in his left thumb. Though the Mets remain skeptical that Lagares will be a help to them offensively down the stretch, they are hopeful he can join them as a defensive replacement late in games.
"We're going to push Juan on the defensive side pretty hard," Collins said. "If we can get this guy physically ready to help us defensively, that's a pretty nice weapon off the bench. We all talk about having that pinch-runner and stuff. How about having a Gold Glove center fielder that you can run out there in the last couple of innings? That's pretty nice to have."
The Mets also announced Friday that second baseman Neil Walker underwent a lumbar microdiscectomy procedure Thursday to repair a herniated disk in his back. Walker will miss the rest of the season.