Usually, good news on the injury front and the New York Mets don't go hand-in-hand, but that is just what the team got on Wednesday.
After joining the team in Queens on Wednesday, Michael Conforto was activated from the disabled list on Thursday, the team announced. Utility infielder Phillip Evans was optioned to triple-A Las Vegas to make room for the outfielder.
He could make his season debut as early as Thursday afternoon as the Mets kick off their series with the Nationals in Washington D.C.
Conforto has not appeared in a regular-season game since August after dislocating his shoulder while fouling off a pitch. Initially, the 25-year-old was not expected back until at least May 1.
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He was New York's best all-around hitter last season, batting .279 with a .384 on-base percentage, 20 home runs and 68 RBI in just 109 games before his injury.
It was an enormous comeback from a 2016 campaign in which his big-league future was in doubt after batting .220 with 12 home runs and 42 RBI in the same amount of games.
During his absence, including the first two series of the 2018 season, the Mets were forced to trot out a platoon of Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares in center field. Nimmo has shown signs of becoming an effective lead-off hitter at the MLB level thanks to his patience at the plate. In his first nine plate appearances, he's reached base five times.
On the other hand, Lagares usually ensures sterling defense but a struggling bat. However, he has five hits in nine at-bats to start the season.
While Conforto is not a natural center fielder, he will likely slot in at that spot. Right fielder Jay Bruce and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes don't provide any better options in center. It will force new manager Mickey Callaway to try and find new ways to get Nimmo and Lagares' bat in the lineup as they will now be relegated to more of a reserve role.