New York Mets outfielder Starling Marte during a spring training...

New York Mets outfielder Starling Marte during a spring training workout, Tuesday Feb. 20, 2024 in Port St. Lucie FL. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Very little happened with or to Starling Marte in his spring-training debut Wednesday, but that he was on the field at all registered as a win.

Playing for the Mets for the first time since a brief cameo last August, Marte manned rightfield for three innings, fielded zero balls and raced through two at-bats on four pitches: a first-pitch flyout to the warning track and a three-pitch strikeout.

And then his day was over, short and sweet and successful.

“I want to reintroduce myself,” Marte said through an interpreter, “to the player that I’ve always been.”

In his quest to reestablish himself as an everyday player following a 2023 season plagued by his poor recovery from groin surgery, his appearance in a 3-0 win over the Cardinals marked another step forward.

He had played in a handful of winter-ball games in the Dominican Republic, sure. But this was different, he acknowledged.

As was the case with other recent signs, this one was positive, even if he didn’t do much.

“I feel comfortable with my body,” Marte said. “I came into camp ready to go. I’ll be able to steal bases and play rightfield the way you have seen me play in the past.”

Antoan Richardson, the Mets’ new outfield coach, said: “He seems motivated and is moving around really well . . . In this camp, the energy has been very high and he’s been awesome to work with.”

Marte’s preseason buildup will be “pretty much the same” as that for any other player, manager Carlos Mendoza said. That means taking at least Thursday off, for example, and then probably upping his next start to five innings. With four weeks until Opening Day, Marte and the Mets can take it slow.

Their priority remains his health. That would be especially true for any 35-year-old outfielder, even more so for one with Marte’s recent history.

“The biggest thing is the health, making sure he’s going through his normal routines and his preparation and bouncing back, especially when we get to the point where he’s going back-to-back [days] or playing more innings on the field,” Mendoza said. “We know the type of player he is. I’ve seen him for years now. Talent, obviously. I think it’s more making sure he’s healthy.”

Marte’s overall state — to be deciphered over the next few weeks — stands to influence other decisions the Mets will make near the end of March.

Regarding the roster: If the Mets deem Marte able to consistently and reliably play rightfield, as opposed to needing regular reps at DH, they wouldn’t have as great a need to carry DJ Stewart, who had a strong couple of months as Marte’s fill-in last year. In that scenario, Tyrone Taylor would be the lone backup outfielder. Sending Stewart to the minors would open a spot for, say, Ji Man Choi or Luke Voit, if the Mets want to go that route.

Regarding the lineup: If Marte hits and runs like he did prior to last season, the Mets can re-insert him into the top third of the lineup, which Mendoza said is his preference. A stable top four of Brandon Nimmo, Marte, Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso was one of the reasons the Mets were so good in 2022. Last year, after Marte got dropped in and then disappeared from the lineup, the Mets moved Lindor up a bunch, creating a ripple effect.

Marte returning to his 2022 form is “for sure” a realistic expectation, Mendoza said.

“It’s just good to see him out there, having fun and being himself,” he said. “He’s feeling good. You could see it in his body language. So that’s important. It was a good day overall.”

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