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Mets' Sandy Alderson expects Noah Syndergaard back in June

New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard works out

New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard works out Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in Jupiter, Fla. Syndergaard works with trainer Eric Cressey on the medicine ball receive and release scoop toss.  Credit: AP/Phelan M. Ebenhack

The Mets will be missing some of their rotation thunder when the 2021 season begins, but team president Sandy Alderson said Wednesday that the "reasonable expectation" is that Noah Syndergaard will return in June.

Manager Luis Rojas noted earlier in the day that Syndergaard is "on schedule or maybe a little bit ahead of schedule" in his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery. He has been throwing off a mound for more than a month, in line with a normal progression from his March operation.

"[June is] what I’ve seen in our medical reports and our updates," Alderson said on WFAN. "Right now, I’d stick with that, just because that’s what’s medically indicated, and we’ll see where it goes."

Rojas, who mostly gets his Syndergaard updates from pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, sometimes texts Syndergaard himself.

"You know how Noah works and goes about it," Rojas said during a conference call with reporters. "He's a hard worker. He's a guy that was going to face this surgery and rehab the best you could face it, so he's doing it as we expected."

Trader Sandy

Alderson said that he expects "that we’ll be involved" in the trade market, particularly for players who have one year of team control remaining (like Francisco Lindor) or big contracts (like Nolan Arenado), where the prospect cost should be low.

He reiterated his preference to keep top prospects, though that doesn’t preclude a deal with Cleveland or Colorado, and called recent buzz linking the Mets to Arenado "speculative."

"I view that part of the trade market as akin to the free-agent market," Alderson said. "It’s more about money than it is about prospects."

Rosario’s changeup

Three-plus years after shortstop Amed Rosario debuted as one of the best prospects in baseball, the Mets want him to learn third base.

"Some of the things that I've talked about Rosie is expanding his versatility," Rojas said. "He's working at shortstop which is his main position. But for him to expand, probably play a little bit of third base, I think is something that will help him and help the team."

The Mets are not considering trying Rosario in the outfield, Rojas said. They flirted with that idea in years past (https://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/mets/amed-rosario-juan-lagares-centerfield-position-shift-1.34167549) but the experiment never got very far.

With the emergence Andres Gimenez, 22, who offered sharp defense and about league-average offense as a rookie in 2020, Rosario lost his job as the starting shortstop toward the end of the season. New general manager Jared Porter preaches the importance of versatility, which Gimenez offers by playing second and third. Now the Mets want Rosario, 25, to be able to do something similar.

"We've had conversations about it, about him going from that [third-base] angle and practicing maybe some of those plays," Rojas said. "It would definitely help a lot if he would expand on his versatility."

Oh no, Cano

Rojas said he was "shocked" to learn of Robinson Cano’s season-long suspension after he tested positive for a steroid, which he didn’t find out about until the news become public. He called Cano "to be supportive at the time."

But Rojas added: "We are supportive of the [performance-enhancing drug testing] program as well. Once you test positive in the program, especially for a second time, we know what's going on."

Extra bases

Rojas on Steve Cohen and expectations to win now: "It’s exciting. The passion, it’s electric … It’s highly motivating for people when you establish expectations like that, especially coming from an owner of a team. That’s how it’s taken from me." . . . Among 2020’s temporary rules, Rojas said he would like the DH to stay in the National League but wants doubleheader games to be nine innings each. He is in wait-and-see mode on whether the Mets will have the DH but noted that its presence "will really help."

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