Michael Conforto returning to Mets having ‘exceeded’ expectations

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For the second day in a row, the Mets are getting a key position player back.

Michael Conforto will be activated off the injured list Tuesday in time for the Mets’ game against the Braves at Citi Field, after missing five weeks with a hamstring strain.

The right fielder’s return comes a day after Jeff McNeil came back from his own hamstring strain. Conforto only played in three rehab games (to McNeil’s five), but was feeling strong enough to come off the IL a few days earlier than expected.

“He’s actually exceeded our expectations, hit all of our objective markers on his strength, his hamstring,” acting general manager Zack Scott said. “He’s ready to go.”

The Mets had not yet released a lineup two hours prior to first pitch, needing to check on the statuses of other players after Monday’s doubleheader, but Scott said there were no concerns about Conforto’s health.

“He’s testing at really high strength and we’ve pushed him several times that we’ve really stress tested it and we feel really good about it,” Scott said. “Some guys, you can push them to max sooner. Other guys, we want to do it where we have a program. We want to progress them to hit the certain levels of intensity before they’re cleared to play. Michael just happened to hit them sooner [than McNeil].”

Before he hit the IL, Conforto was batting .230 with two home runs and a 97 OPS-plus in 33 games. His absence, along with center fielder Brandon Nimmo (plus a stretch without Kevin Pillar and Albert Almora Jr.), left the Mets outfield depth depleted last month. But now they are nearly back to full strength, with Nimmo currently on his own rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse.

Still, manager Luis Rojas said the Mets would be smart about easing Conforto back into the lineup.

“There is a plan,” Rojas said. “We have our performance staff talk to us and also talking to Michael, laying out what we’re expecting. We just don’t want to throw him in there and probably run him into immediate high workload, coming from a hamstring injury. He’s good, he’s in great shape. But we also don’t want to abuse him.”

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