Mets centerfielder Brandon Nimmo awaits a pitch during a game...

Mets centerfielder Brandon Nimmo awaits a pitch during a game against the Marlins at Citi Field on May 10. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

ATLANTA — Brandon Nimmo and Jed Lowrie are making real, tangible, significant progress in trying to return from injury and are nearing minor-league rehabilitation assignments, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said.

Nimmo, who has been out since May with a bulging disc in his neck, appears to be closer to a return. He has been facing live pitching and could get into games “as early as the next few days,” according to Van Wagenen.

Lowrie, who hasn’t played this season because of various lower-body injuries, started facing live pitching Wednesday, a major step forward amid his various other baseball activities. Van Wagenen said “it's absolutely our hope and expectation” that Lowrie plays for the Mets before the season ends.

“Progression will be to keep getting his reps, keep getting his strength, continue to work on his mobility and his quickness and explosion,” Van Wagenen said. “He started running the bases, but he needs to continue to increase his acceleration speed, and hopefully once he’s ready with all those steps then he’ll be back in rehab games.”

Lowrie, a former longtime client of Van Wagenen’s, signed a two-year, $20-million deal with the Mets in January. He missed all of spring training with what the Mets initially thought was just a sore left knee and almost returned in May but suffered left hamstring and then left hip issues. Then he strained his right calf in July.

“Left side has been strong and I feel like he’s over the hump with the left side and the right side has made progress too,” Van Wagenen said. “We’re encouraged.”

Extra bases

Van Wagenen said the Mets haven't seriously considered sending Edwin Diaz (5.60 ERA) to the minors. “The work he’s doing with Phil [Regan], Jeremy [Accardo] and Ricky [Bones] has been good and we would anticipate continuing to do that work,” Van Wagenen said. “We feel like we’ve identified a couple of things in his mechanics, in his delivery that can help him.” . . . The Mets released infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, who was designated for assignment last week, on Wednesday.

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