Starling Marte #6 of the Mets singles during the second...

Starling Marte #6 of the Mets singles during the second inning against the San Diego Padres in Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series at Citi Field on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022  Credit: Jim McIsaac

Just call him the wild card of the NL Wild Card Series.

Still hurting after fracturing his finger a month ago, Starling Marte made a surprise return to the Mets’ lineup on Friday night for Game 1 against the Padres, batting sixth and playing rightfield — even though they didn’t quite know what to expect from him.

Despite not being able to fully, normally swing a bat and throw a ball, Marte was willing to give it a go. He went 2-for-4 with two ground-ball singles and two stolen bases in the 7-1 loss.

“In a situation like this, you kind of have to suck up the pain because it’s a significant situation,” Marte said through an interpreter after hitting a couple of homers during batting practice. “So you have to fight through it.”

Mets' full roster for NL Wild Card Series

(players listed alphabetically)

Starting pitchers: Chris Bassitt, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer.

Relief pitchers: Edwin Diaz, Mychal Givens, Seth Lugo, Trevor May, Tylor Megill, Adam Ottavino, David Peterson, Joely Rodriguez, Drew Smith.

Catchers: Francisco Alvarez, Tomas Nido, James McCann.

Infielders: Pete Alonso, Eduardo Escobar, Luis Guillorme, Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil, Daniel Vogelbach.

Outfielders: Mark Canha, Terrance Gore, Starling Marte, Brandon Nimmo, Darin Ruf. 

Manager Buck Showalter said: “We’ll see what we get.”

Is his right middle finger still broken? “What’s the definition of broken?” Showalter said. “We don’t worry about it worsening.”

Showalter said he slotted Marte into the No. 6 spot instead of his usual No. 2 so that if he had to come out of the game, it wouldn’t affect the top of the batting order. Afterward, Marte said he felt OK. “You feel it. It’s uncomfortable,” he said. “But the goal is to go out there and play whether it hurts or not.”

Marte’s inclusion on the Mets’ roster seemed unlikely in recent days because he had had trouble completing even the most basic of baseball-related acts. Those had given him trouble since he was hit in the right hand by a fastball from Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller on Sept. 6.

But then the medical staff, along with Marte, used a piece of protective equipment — he called it a “tight band” — that compressed the finger. That mitigated the discomfort and ended a weeks-long search for various splints and other options.

And so Marte again tried swinging, first off a machine and then against righthander Tommy Hunter and lefthander Phillip Diehl, on Wednesday and Thursday. It went well — or well enough. Showalter, who said he avoids seeking step-by-step updates, asked for a bottom line Thursday night in a closed-door conversation with Marte and other Mets decision-makers.

“I play,” Showalter quoted Marte as saying. “I ready.”

Showalter took him at his word, which hasn’t always been the case this season. In July, for example, after missing several games because of a leg issue, Marte returned, hit well in his first game and said afterward that he wished the manager had believed him when he said days earlier that he was OK.

“It took a long time .  .  . just to get to ‘If I tell you this, trust me,’  ” Showalter said of their evolving relationship. “He’s got a feel for what he can do and he can’t do. He’s also got a lot of pride.”

Marte said: “They asked me how I really felt and [said] that they actually trusted me to give them an honest answer. At this point, every player is playing with pain, so when you go out there on the field, you forget about that pain. Right now, it’s about going out there and going to play and trying to forget it and power through.”

Also making the Mets for this series: Francisco Alvarez, who at 20 years old was the youngest player in the majors in the waning days of the regular season. He will be a DH/pinch hitter option against lefthanded pitchers — such as Padres Game 2 starter Blake Snell — and allow Showalter to more aggressively pinch hit for light-hitting catchers Tomas Nido and James McCann.

Darin Ruf also is available as a hitter against lefties.

Among the notable exclusions were starting pitchers Taijuan Walker and Carlos Carrasco, who would not have been needed unless in emergency long relief duty, plus Tyler Naquin and Mark Vientos.

The Mets opted to carry 14 hitters and 12 pitchers, including converted starters Tylor Megill and David Peterson, who will serve as relievers.

Showalter said Hunter, a reliever, was among the close calls for whom the Mets didn’t have room. “Tommy was close. I tried to tell him: It’s three games. Hopefully we’re playing more,” Showalter said. “The whole dynamic could change. But we got our work cut out for us.”

The Mets will get to adjust their roster if they advance to the NLDS against the Dodgers.