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Rehabbing Lagares hopes to play winter ball

Mets CF begins running at full speed for first time since toe injury
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- For the first time since tearing the plantar plate in his left big toe in May, Juan Lagares took to the field on Thursday for a series of sprinting exercises. Lagares, who has not appeared in a game since May 16, hopes to be back to full health in time to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

"A little weird, but I feel good," Lagares said of running full speed for the first time. "It doesn't feel painful. I know in a couple weeks from now I'm going to be good."

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NEW YORK -- For the first time since tearing the plantar plate in his left big toe in May, Juan Lagares took to the field on Thursday for a series of sprinting exercises. Lagares, who has not appeared in a game since May 16, hopes to be back to full health in time to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

"A little weird, but I feel good," Lagares said of running full speed for the first time. "It doesn't feel painful. I know in a couple weeks from now I'm going to be good."

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For much of the summer, Lagares has been hitting in a cage, hoping to keep his timing sharp enough that the adjustment to game speed will not take long. He recently began a program of agility drills, which evolved into Thursday's sprint work.

"I feel so excited, man, to be back here," Lagares said. "I've been at home for too long, just in bed and resting. I feel like I need to work. I need to play."

Heading into next season, Lagares appears to be ticketed for his usual role as the Mets' fourth outfielder, right-handed platoon bat and regular defensive replacement. A National League Gold Glove Award center fielder in 2014, Lagares is a career .260 hitter with a .667 OPS, including a .269/.317/.394 slash line against left-handed pitchers. But he has struggled to stay healthy, hitting the disabled list in recent seasons with various left thumb maladies -- a sprain, a broken bone, a torn ligament -- and muscle pulls.

Since signing a four-year, $25 million contract extension that runs through next season, Lagares has averaged 68 games per year.

Just like old times
Although the Mets did not take team batting practice on Thursday, David Wright and Jose Reyes emerged from the clubhouse for a private hitting session together on the field. Wright, who is scheduled to start his final big league game on Saturday, could still make a pinch-hit appearance before then.

As a parting gift, Wright left bottles of premium tequila in each of his teammates' lockers on Thursday. The bottles are inscribed with Wright's No. 5 and the message: "Thanks for the memories."

On track
Noah Syndergaard, who left his last start early due to illness, was feeling "much better" Thursday, according to Mets manager Mickey Callaway, and the righty is on track to make his final outing Sunday against the Marlins. Syndergaard will wind up with 25 starts, the second most in his four-year career.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Juan Lagares, Noah Syndergaard, David Wright