David Stearns says Francisco Alvarez’s comfort receiving will be key.

David Stearns says Francisco Alvarez’s comfort receiving will be key. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Francisco Alvarez may well return to the Mets earlier than they initially expected.

In the latest sign of his rapid recovery, he already is set to begin a rehabilitation assignment Thursday with Double-A Binghamton, jumping straight to catching five or seven innings, according to manager Carlos Mendoza.

Team officials initially offered an eight-week timetable after the April 23 surgery to repair the torn ligament in his left thumb. That would bring him to June 18; he appears to be solidly ahead of that timetable.

“The fact that he’s already scheduled to go down there and start playing games,” Mendoza said, “is huge for us.”

Caution remains merited, however, given that Alvarez is a catcher who suffered a major injury to his receiving hand. He continues to wear a splint, including when his hand is in his mitt. Getting into game action will serve as a major test. His rehab assignment won’t be as routine as it would be for, say, any other player recovering from a hamstring pull.

“The big thing with Alvy right now is just getting comfortable receiving a baseball,” president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “The added complication here with a catcher with this injury is how is he going to feel receiving the baseball? That's the hurdle. And we won't really know until he gets out there, but everything is going well so far.”

Surgery for Jett?

Jett Williams, the Mets’ top prospect, remains sidelined with a right wrist injury and might need surgery if he doesn’t soon show signs of healing, Stearns said.

 

He recently received a second cortisone injection, which the Mets hope will alleviate the soreness Williams has experienced since the start of the season.

“The soreness didn’t calm down after the first one,” Stearns said. “When you’re injecting, you’re injecting because there’s some injury you’re trying to calm down. So if the second injection doesn’t work, we’re going to have to look at what more we can do to help him.”

That includes considering surgery.

“We’ll probably know more there in the next week to 10 days to see how he responds to this,” Stearns said.

Williams, 20, played shortstop (seven games), second base (three games) and centerfield (one game) with Binghamton before going on the injured list. He batted .180 with a .668 OPS.

Hot corner, big questions

Mendoza indicated the Mets would reevaluate as soon as Wednesday whether they need to add a middle infielder, with Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil having played all 19 innings during a doubleheader Tuesday.

Lindor hurt his left index finger on a bunt attempt. It was swollen and “very” painful, Lindor said, but he got X-rays and it was not broken.

Bringing up a backup infielder likely would mean sending either Mark Vientos or Brett Baty back to Triple-A Syracuse.

“There's no easy solution here,” Stearns said. “I do think we have two players who deserve to be in the big leagues.”

That is why the Mets have carried both for two weeks, forcing Lindor and McNeil to play every inning, but as Stearns noted, that arrangement “cannot last in perpetuity.”

“At some point, we're going to have to get slightly more conventional,” Stearns said. “But we have two guys who I think have demonstrated they really deserve to be in the big leagues. And so we're going to ride with it when we can. And right now I think it's best for their development to be here and get major league at-bats. And I also understand that at some point, we're probably going to have to get a middle infielder.”

Extra bases

Kodai Senga (right shoulder train, right triceps inflammation) played catch Tuesday for the first time since receiving a cortisone injection Friday . . . The Mets rank 29th out of 30 teams with -27 Defensive Runs Saved. “There have certainly been times during the season where we have not been a good defensive team,” Stearns said. “And so that number doesn't necessarily surprise me” . . . Stearns on Edwin Diaz: “Edwin's a really good pitcher, an elite-level pitcher who's going through a rough patch, and I expect him to come out of it and bounce back just fine” . . . The Mets called up reliever Dedniel Nunez as the 27th man for both ends of their doubleheader against the Dodgers.

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