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Mets’ Michael Conforto might not need rehab assignment before returning from disabled list

Mets outfielder Michael Conforto during a spring training

Mets outfielder Michael Conforto during a spring training workout on Tuesday Feb. 20, 2018 in Port St. Lucie, FL. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Michael Conforto could return to the majors as soon as April 5 and might not need to go on a formal rehabilitation assignment.

General manager Sandy Alderson said Thursday that the Mets have not decided whether to send Conforto to play in minor-league games. “That’s a decision we’ll make in the next couple of days,” he said.

Minor-league spring training ends Sunday. The minors’ season starts Thursday, the same day Conforto is eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list.

The Mets will have to decide if they want to activate Conforto as soon as possible or if it’s worth sending him to an affiliate for what likely would be only a couple of games.

A possible middle ground: Conforto stays at the Mets’ spring training complex, works out with high Class A St. Lucie and perhaps gets into a couple of regular-season games there. That would allow him to get at-bats without extra travel and join the Mets quickly if team decision-makers deem him ready.

Whichever route the Mets choose, it appears Conforto will return well before the May 1 approximation the team had pegged during the offseason. He had surgery on his dislocated left shoulder in September and, by all accounts, has progressed well.

Brandon Nimmo started in centerfield Opening Day, but his role likely will be lessened upon Conforto’s return.

“I can only be me. They’re either going to like me or not,” Nimmo said, smiling as always. “I can’t force them to. When Conforto comes back, we’ll deal with that. As far as right now, I’m just going to try to be me and be the best me I can.”

An edgy opener

Alderson doesn’t quite harbor the same warm, fuzzy feelings about Opening Day that so many others do.

“There’s a little bit of an edge,” Alderson said before the Mets’ 9-4 win over the Cardinals at Citi Field on Thursday. “I like regularity. I like routine. And Opening Day is neither of those things. I like to get past it and get into the meat of the season.

“Any time there’s a transition day, there’s always a little bit of, I wouldn’t call it anxiety, but nervousness. Anticipation. So I feel that, I assume somewhat akin to what the players feel. But I have little or no control over what’s going to happen today. So I’m along for the ride with everybody else.”

Sweet relief

Righthander Anthony Swarzak tossed a perfect eighth inning in his Mets debut. He followed up righty Robert Gsellman, who struck out the side in the seventh. Gsellman began spring training as a starter but made the team as a reliever.

“He can be very important,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “I think that’s why we pitched him in the situation we pitched him. This kid, you should see him come off the field. He was so pumped up and fired up. It was like he just closed the game out. He’s really embracing this position. He’s going to be a really good reliever.”

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