ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A week after he limped off the field and wound up diagnosed with sprains in his right knee and ankle, Brandon Nimmo is due to return to the Mets’ lineup Saturday night when they host the St. Louis Cardinals.
Nimmo played in minor-league games in Port St. Lucie on consecutive days while most of the rest of the Mets participated in a two-game Gulf Coast road trip. That included four innings in centerfield Friday.
With Jeff McNeil also expected back in the lineup, according to manager Buck Showalter, for the first time since leaving for the WBC, the Mets might have their entire starting group together for the first time all spring training.
“[Nimmo is] going to play tomorrow unless he wakes up [hurting],” Showalter said. “We got a chance to have our team.”
After he got injured, Nimmo and the Mets were optimistic about his availability for the start of the season. He has progressed about as expected — if not better — with Grapefruit League action representing perhaps his last hurdle.
In their only exhibition game in a major-league ballpark, the Mets beat the Rays, 11-2, at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay played most of its spring training home games at its regular-season stadium because its Port Charlotte facility was damaged by a hurricane last year.
Pete Alonso went 2-for-3 with a home run, a walk and even a stolen base.
“Pete felt good today. First day he really felt like himself, he said,” Showalter said. “[The steal was] one of those things you really look away. You go, Pete, really? ‘I had it.’ OK.”
Omar Narvaez also hit a home run, his first of camp. He said he is comfortable with his offensive readiness after barely playing in the WBC with Venezuela.
Lefthanded reliever Zach Muckenhirn tossed a scoreless inning, giving him seven exhibition appearances (six innings) without allowing an earned run.
“Good arm,” Showalter said. “He’s a guy that can help us. The only question is whether it’s now or later.”
Meanwhile, in PSL
A few other highlights from Friday action at the Mets’ Port St. Lucie complex, via Showalter:
* Kodai Senga threw a 45-pitch bullpen session that included some splitters, a pitch he has avoided in recent weeks while dealing with tendinitis in his right index finger. He is scheduled to start an intrasquad scrimmage Monday.
* McNeil racked up another nine at-bats in minor-league games, as he did Thursday.
* Adam Ottavino and David Robertson pitched for a second day in a row, checking a routine late-camp box for relievers.
* Similarly, Drew Smith tossed two innings.
“We got all these things done,” Showalter said. “That’s . . . a good day for us as a group.”