After running the bases earlier in the week at Citi Field, second baseman Neil Walker is getting ready to start playing in rehab games, and could be back as early as next week
This is all according to manager Terry Collins who spoke to the media prior to Wednesday’s third game of the Mets’ series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
While Collins didn’t specify a specific day when Walker would be back, he did say it was likely during the San Diego Padres series. That four-game set begins on Monday, June 24 in San Diego.
Walker has a productive second season with the Mets. He’s hit .270/.352/.468 with nine home runs and 33 RBI through 60 games before coming down with the latest injury, so his presence in the lineup will surely be welcomed with open arms.
His early return would also give the Mets about a week to shop him around to teams that could use a veteran switch-hitting infielder. The trade deadline is on August 1, so while it would be cutting it close, the Mets could get something of value in return for the future free agent Walker.
Walker’s return will inevitably cause some parts to move in the Mets infield though. So far while he was on the disabled list, Asdrubal Cabrera has played a bulk of the time at second base. He hasn’t been happy about and even asked for a trade before playing his first game there last month. Of course, he’d eventually take back those words, but his displeasure with moving around has obviously been noted.
Once Walker returns the Mets will have to decide how to align their infield and who will get playing time in which position. Jose Reyes has been hitting the ball well over the last few weeks posting a .386 average with 3 HR over his last 16 games.
Odds are the Mets will want to keep Reyes in the lineup, so he’ll either have to be moved to third where hitting machine T.J. Rivera has been stationed, or Asdrubal Cabrera will simply be forced to the bench for the time being.
Collins has a few days to figure it out, and the outcome of these next few games could determine what he decides to do one way or another.