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Michael Conforto likely to make season debut on Thursday against the Nationals

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Phillip Evans will head back to Triple-A to make room for Conforto

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Conforto will likely make his season debut against the Washington Nationals on Thursday, eight months after having surgery to repair a posterior capsule tear in his left shoulder. The Mets originally expected Conforto to return to the lineup around May 1, but he has progressed quickly through his rehab assignment.

Before suffering the shoulder injury on August 24 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Conforto was enjoying a breakout season. He hit .279 in 373 at-bats, including a career-high 27 home runs and 68 RBI. He missed the final 37 games of the 2017 season and has missed the first five games of 2018.

Conforto returned to action during the last week of spring training, recording one hit in six at-bats. The Mets considered adding Conforto to the Opening Day roster, but eventually decided to let him begin the season on the 10-day disabled list.

Conforto, who will take over as the starting center fielder and will likely slot into the leadoff spot in the lineup, joins an already-crowded Mets outfield that includes Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, Brandon Nimmo, and Juan Lagares. Nimmo and Lagares have shared center field responsibilities in Conforto’s absence and have performed well in limited action. Nimmo has recorded two hits in six at-bats, while Lagares has registered five hits in nine at-bats.

To make room for Conforto, the Mets will send infielder Phillip Evans back to Triple-A. Evans, who was solid during spring training action, went hit-less in two at-bats after making the roster.