Eduardo Escobar of the Mets celebrates his first-inning two-run home run...

Eduardo Escobar of the Mets celebrates his first-inning two-run home run against the Yankees with teammate Pete Alonso at Citi Field on Tuesday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Eduardo Escobar is close to returning to the Mets. How close? As close as Brooklyn and Queens.

Escobar was slated to start on Friday night for the Brooklyn Cyclones as the designated hitter against a lefthanded starting pitcher for Jersey Shore.

“I just hope the lefthander stays around for a few at-bats,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “Basically, when he gets through with the lefthander, I think he’s going to get in the car and head back here.”

Showalter said if Escobar’s second minor-league rehab game goes well, “I’m hoping that he’s a player for us on Saturday.”

Escobar, who is on the injured list with a left oblique strain, played seven innings at shortstop for Brooklyn on Thursday and went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

“Played well at shortstop,” Showalter said. “Hit two or three balls on the button. He felt good physically. We talked to him after the game and the decision with the lefthanded starter — that was the last bridge to cross.

“Tonight he’s going to DH there to get some righthanded at-bats. If that goes well, we’ll probably make a decision on what we want to do tomorrow.”


The easy move once Escobar is activated would be for the Mets to remove utilityman Yolmer Sanchez from the roster. That’s if they want to platoon lefty-swinging rookie Brett Baty with the switch-hitting Escobar and also use Escobar as the prime backup to Francisco Lindor at short.

Baty went into Friday night batting .161 with one home run (in his first big-league at-bat) and four RBIs. The numbers don’t look great, but the Mets like what they’ve seen from the 22-year-old.

Escobar was signed to a two-year, $20 million contract to be the third baseman, but his struggles hitting lefthanded forced the Mets to platoon him with Luis Guillorme until both got injured.

Showalter used Sanchez as a pinch runner for Baty in Thursday’s 3-1 victory over Colorado and then Sanchez went in to play third base. Showalter had an interesting explanation for the move.

“I don’t necessarily think Yolmer Sanchez runs better than Baty. I’m not sure if he’s a better defender,” Showalter said. “But you try to create situations where guys feel like they’re able to contribute. It keeps them [having] status in the locker room.

“I’ve seen guys sit around for two weeks over there and then all of a sudden you can’t figure out why they can’t contribute when someone gets hurt or something. It’s not shame on them, it’s shame on you.”

Hunter is back

The Mets activated righthander Tommy Hunter off the IL and optioned catcher Michael Perez to Triple-A Syracuse.

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months