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MIAMI — Brandon Nimmo last played in a major-league game for the Mets on May 2 and, though he doesn’t yet have a target date or timeline, he indicated it will be a while until he returns to the lineup.
Encouragingly, the center fielder said he is “pretty close” to swinging the bat again. Nimmo has been shut down from swinging while he continues to battle what he initially thought was a left index finger bone bruise, an injury he sustained on a swing on April 30 in Philly. But, after meeting with a hand specialist and receiving a second opinion, he understood his bone bruise to be more like nerve inflammation in his finger.
“Mine ended up getting irritated from this one contact,” Nimmo said on Saturday. “They seem to say, people will go five years without this ever happening and then all of a sudden, one swing will make it happen. Then you have to wait for that nerve to basically calm down and that swelling to calm down.”
Nimmo was optimistic earlier this month that his finger injury would be a small blip in a long season. So the Mets sent him on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse on May 13, which ended up doing more harm than good. Nimmo reaggravated his finger during his 0-for-3 day at the plate. He felt the pain, then the swelling in his finger pushed down on the bothersome nerve.
The setback prompted the Mets to shut Nimmo down from swinging completely. This weekend, he joined the Mets in Miami and will remain with them until the medical staff gives him the green light for another rehab assignment. Of course, before he plays for Syracuse again, he will need to start taking some swings. The latter progression, Nimmo reiterated on Saturday, is close.
“This time we’re going to be extra cautious going through it and make sure when I go back it’s to come back for good,” he said.
NIDO STAYS HOT, McCANN BENCHED
The Mets this offseason acquired James McCann for $40.6 million over four years. Yet, these days, he’s losing playing time to the team’s backup catcher.
Tomas Nido received his second straight start behind the plate on Saturday against the Marlins, which was also his fourth start in five games. Nido entered Saturday batting .345 with a 1.027 OPS, seven RBI and two home runs in 10 games in May. Compare those stats to McCann’s (.182 batting average, .455 OPS, 15 strikeouts in 14 games this month), and the Mets’ decision to continue giving Nido more starts over McCann was easy.
“Nido has been part of the winning formula lately,” Luis Rojas said. “About the conversations with McCann, we’ve had it throughout the week. I told him that Nido is going to get a little bit more playing time since he’s been playing really good, and we wanted just to keep that going.
“The two times that we talked, I told him to see this as an opportunity for him to work on some things so he can get his bat going, and still work on his catching routine, which is very consistent when he and [catching coach] Brian Schneider work on some things. That’s the way he’s taking it. He’s a professional, he’s a great teammate and he’s been great about it.”
ALMORA NOT READY
Albert Almora (left shoulder bruise) was eligible to come off the IL on Saturday, since he crashed into the center-field wall while attempting to make a catch at Citi Field on May 12. Almora has been cleared to play catch but is not yet swinging. The Mets’ backup outfielder will still need more time to recover, Rojas said on Saturday, and he does not expect Almora to return to the team anytime soon, not even in time for the Mets’ homestand next week.
“He’s progressing well, he’s doing different exercises, he’s working really hard with our strength and conditioning coaches, with our performance staff, with the medical staff,” Rojas said. “He is playing catch. He’s not doing anything more than that. He’s not going to hit, I think, until we get back to New York.”
Rojas said Almora can be considered “week-to-week.”
A consequence of the Mets’ constant moving parts involved the team designating a newcomer for assignment — the day after he sparked a game-winning rally.
Jake Hager was designated for assignment on Saturday, the Mets announced, to make room for right-hander Stephen Tarpley to come off the COVID-19 injured list. Jordan Yamamoto was also added to the 26-man roster and was available out of the bullpen for Mets’ game against the Marlins on Saturday.
Hager stroked his first major-league hit in the 12th inning of the Mets’ 6-5 win over the Marlins on Friday. The 28-year-old Hager set the table for Khalil Lee’s RBI double that broke the stalemate, which was also Lee’s first career hit.
“It was really tough,” Rojas said of his conversation with Hager. “I can imagine it was as tough for him, as it was tough for me.
“I did tell him that this is something that can happen, and he should not put his head down. He got himself here. He’s one of our best hitters in Syracuse. So just keep working hard, keep looking forward and I pray that he’s with us and he meets us again down the road.”
Other Mets that were recently designated for assignment have since been picked up by clubs. Left-hander Daniel Zamora was claimed by the Mariners and catcher Deivy Grullón was claimed by the Tampa Bay Rays.