NEW YORK -- Slowly, the Mets are growing healthier, with some of their most significant missing pieces due back soon.
Yoenis Cespedes is nearing the end of his running program in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and will advance to a Minor League rehab assignment "in the next couple days," according to manager Terry Collins. Initially, the Mets were uncertain if Cespedes would need Minor League time, because he has been taking at-bats regularly in extended spring training. But the team feels uncomfortable activating Cespedes, who has been sidelined since April 28 due to a strained left hamstring, until he has played defense in a live game setting.
When asked when Cespedes might return to the Mets, Collins said: "We're hoping soon. I'd like to put a date and timetable on it, but he'll dictate that in how he feels after he starts playing. I'm hoping that certainly in the next few days, he will be ready to come back."
An All-Star last season, Cespedes was batting .270 with six home runs in 18 games prior to his injury. When he returns, it will most likely force struggling veteran Curtis Granderson to the bench.
• The Mets are likely to give both Steven Matz and Seth Lugo one additional start each following their rehab starts Tuesday. Neither pitcher would be rested enough to take struggling veteran Tommy Milone's next rotation turn Saturday in Pittsburgh, dampening the Mets' desire to rush them back. Both Matz and Lugo have been on the DL since Opening Day with elbow injuries.
Both pitchers also struggled in their rehab outings. Matz gave up five runs over four innings at Triple-A Las Vegas, while Lugo allowed seven runs (six earned) in three innings for Class A St. Lucie.
• The Mets believe catcher Travis d'Arnaud will be ready to return from the DL shortly after his latest rehab assignment, a full nine-inning stint behind the plate Tuesday for Las Vegas. d'Arnaud, who been on the disabled list since May 5 due to a bruised right hand, finished 0-for-4 with a strikeout, and is 5-for-23 (.217) during the first six games of his rehab.
"Hopefully, there's a chance he can be here soon," Collins said.
• Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday for Double-A Binghamton, but the game was postponed due to rain. Cabrera has been sidelined since May 14 with a sprained left thumb.<