WASHINGTON -- Mets outfielder Juan Lagares will begin a Minor League rehab assignment Tuesday for Double-A Binghamton, perhaps putting struggling backup Alejandro De Aza on notice.Lagares, who has been sidelined since June 15 with a partially torn left thumb ligament, had been playing through the injury for about a week
WASHINGTON -- Mets outfielder Juan Lagares will begin a Minor League rehab assignment Tuesday for Double-A Binghamton, perhaps putting struggling backup Alejandro De Aza on notice.
Lagares, who has been sidelined since June 15 with a partially torn left thumb ligament, had been playing through the injury for about a week prior to that. Though Lagares eventually may need surgery to repair the ligament tear, he will attempt to play through it for the rest of this season.
"I think ultimately, we'll see if he can play day after day," Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said. "If he can, he'll continue to play. If he can't, then we'll have to decide."
If Lagares can return as the Mets' primary backup outfielder, it could mean a roster jam that De Aza does not survive. Mets manager Terry Collins spoke privately to De Aza after the outfielder did not sprint out of the box on a bunt attempt Saturday in Atlanta, resulting in a key double play. De Aza is batting just .169 this season and although the Mets inked him to a $5.75 million contract this winter, they have not been shy about cutting veterans -- Chris Young, John Mayberry Jr. -- on similar deals in recent years.
A former National League Gold Glove Award winner under team control through 2019, Lagares remains the Mets' best outfield defender. He was hitting .289 with two home runs in 48 games prior to landing on the disabled list, starting most games against left-handed pitchers.
In addition to Lagares and starters Brandon Nimmo, Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson, Kelly Johnson is capable of playing the outfield for the Mets. The team also hopes Jose Reyes will also be able to play left or center once he arrives.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.