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Mets' Yoenis Cespedes expected to begin running program this week

New York Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52)

New York Mets left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) during fielding practice against the Atlanta Braves during the New York Mets' home opener on Monday, April 3, 2017 at Citi Field. Credit: Jim McIsaac

PHOENIX — Mets manager Terry Collins sounded somewhat ambitious on Monday when he said it’s possible that slugger Yoenis Cespedes could be back from his left hamstring strain in a week.

However, Cespedes has progressed enough that he’s expected to begin a running program this week.

Assistant general manager John Ricco said that the running program could take five to six days to complete barring any setbacks. The protocol is essentially a progression, beginning with sprinting in straight lines before graduating to game-like running situations.

Ricco even left open the possibility of Cespedes rejoining the Mets after only an abbreviated stint in a minor-league rehab assignment.

“He’s been getting at-bats,” Ricco said of Cespedes, who has been hitting during extended spring training games.

Cespedes was hitting .270 with six homers and 10 RBIs before going on the disabled list. He has been on the DL since April 28.

Cespedes’ return could force the Mets to make decisions in their outfield, specifically with Curtis Granderson. The veteran centerfielder, 36, entered play on Monday hitting .144 with two homers and 11 RBIs. He has shown few signs of breaking out of his season-long slump.

Thus far, he has been given leeway to turn his season around. But with both Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce establishing themselves as two of the most productive bats in the lineup, a return by Cespedes could squeeze out Granderson.

Pitching plans

Steven Matz and Seth Lugo remain on track to he back in the big leagues by early June. Both pitchers will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday in preparation for pitching in extended spring training games on Thursday, Ricco said.

Both are battling back from elbow ailments. They have already pitched in extended spring with no issues, a positive sign for the Mets, whose starting pitching depth has been whittled away by injuries.

Lugo in particular could be particularly valuable to the Mets, who could use an extra reliever thanks to a starting rotation that has routinely failed to pitch deep into games.

Wright down

David Wright remains a long ways away from a return to the major leagues. The third baseman is working with physical therapists in New York, though he is still not throwing or doing other baseball activities, Ricco said.

Wright had begun some throwing. But he has yet to resume a program after being shut down following issues with his back and shoulder.

Wright is on the 60-day disabled list as he works his way back from the after-effects of neck surgery last season.

Skip Gsellman?

The Mets are weighing whether to skip Robert Gsellman’s turn in the rotation, a source said. The righthander has a 7.07 ERA in eight games this season. His next turn would fall on Thursday — a team off-day — making it easy for the Mets to simply skip him. Such a move would allow Gsellman to be used out of the bullpen.

Extra bases

Catcher Travis d’Arnaud has yet to progress toward batting practice as he works his way back from a bone bruise in his right wrist . . . Outfielder Brandon Nimmo will be activated from the disabled list and officially optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he has been on a minor-league rehab assignment. He intially went on the DL with a hamstring injury, though he was also plagued with a hand issue.

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