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Conforto could return to Mets by April 5

Evans claims No. 28 to match tattoo; Mets honor police, fire department officers
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- Michael Conforto could return from the disabled list as soon as April 5, general manager Sandy Alderson indicated Thursday. Conforto, who spent Spring Training rehabbing from left shoulder surgery, has progressed rapidly enough that -- if nothing else -- he should have no trouble beating his initial target of a May 1 return.

Whether he can make it back from the disabled list when eligible on April 5 will depend upon his progress over the next week.

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NEW YORK -- Michael Conforto could return from the disabled list as soon as April 5, general manager Sandy Alderson indicated Thursday. Conforto, who spent Spring Training rehabbing from left shoulder surgery, has progressed rapidly enough that -- if nothing else -- he should have no trouble beating his initial target of a May 1 return.

Whether he can make it back from the disabled list when eligible on April 5 will depend upon his progress over the next week.

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"That's a decision we'll make over the next couple of days," Alderson said.

If the Mets do not feel Conforto is prepared to jump straight to the Majors, the Mets could send him for rehab games at one of their full-season Minor League affiliates, all of which begin play on April 5. But Conforto is already playing in Minor League spring games in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and may not need the reps. Confident in his abilities at the plate, the Mets want to see Conforto prove he can play on a nightly basis in center field before they will activate him. They begin a six-game road trip April 5 in Washington.

In two Grapefruit League games before camp broke, Conforto finished 1-for-6. He also cracked three home runs in a pair of intrasquad scrimmages, two of them off left-handers.

"I'm pretty close," Conforto said last week. "I'm starting to feel my legs a little bit and starting to feel like I'm in rhythm with everything. So I'm getting close."

The Mets' lone All-Star last season, Conforto .279 with 27 home runs in 109 games. He will likely lead off and play center field upon his return, pushing Brandon Nimmo to the bench.

What's in a number?
Infielder Phillip Evans rolled up his sleeve, showing off a tattooed jersey with his name and the number 28 on the back -- an homage to his father, who wore No. 28 during his playing days.

Evans has also worn 28 throughout his Minor League career. So when he made the Mets' Opening Day roster, he requested a change from the No. 72 jersey he wore last season. Travis Taijeron, who is no longer in the organization, wore No. 28 when Evans first came to the big leagues. Most famously for the Mets, Daniel Murphy wore it from 2008-15.

Video: BAL@NYM: Evans doubles to cut the deficit in the 9th

Friends in high places
New Mets manager Mickey Callaway said he spoke to several friends and mentors in advance of Opening Day, the first of his managerial career.

"I had lots of talks with a few people," Callaway said. "It's just nice to know that everybody you worked with is pulling for you. I reached out to some of the guys I've worked with in the past and wished them luck. Baseball's a big family and it's nice to have support."

Tweet from @Mets: Mickey Callaway describes his emotions heading into #OpeningDay. #LGM pic.twitter.com/TD7gTrtUwJ

Pomp and circumstance
The Mets honored New York City First Precinct police officer Ryan Nash and Port Authority Police Department officer Anthony Estevez before Opening Day, allowing each to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. Nash shot and apprehended the terrorism suspect who killed eight people on a West Side bicycle path in 2018. Estevez was among those who helped stop a terrorism suspect from carrying out a pipe bomb attack in the Port Authority Bus Terminal in December.

NYPD officer Makiah Brown also performed the National Anthem at Citi Field, while PAPD officer Gil Ramos was tabbed to sing "God Bless America."

Throwback
The New York Transit Museum sponsored a "nostalgia 7-line train run" on Opening Day, sending a train consisting of R33 and R36-type subway cars from Herald Square to Flushing-Main St., with a stop at Willets Point. The cars were manufactured between 1948-1964, and were in use for much of Shea Stadium's existence.

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

New York Mets, Michael Conforto