Mets outfielder Juan Lagares looks likely to start the regular season on the disabled list. He suffered an oblique strain in a spring training game last week. He is also coming off a season where a variety of injuries kept him out of action.
Ty Kelly will take Lagares’s place on the Opening Day roster. He’ll most likely join Michael Conforto on the bench, while Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes, and Curtis Granderson will take the three outfield spots in the starting lineup.
Lagares is a below-average hitter, but his absence will create a gaping hole for the Mets’ defense. He’s an excellent defensive center fielder, and there’s no one else on the major league squad who can capably fill that role. In theory, Cespedes would probably be the least worst option, but Granderson seems certain to get the most playing time in center even though he hasn’t played their regularly since 2012.
In a pinch, Michael Conforto could probably amble out to center, where he started five games for the Mets in 2016.