Starling Marte in Mets' lineup for Game 1 vs. Padres, making unexpected return from injury
The Mets will have a surprising addition to their lineup on Friday night.
Starling Marte will bat sixth in Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series against the Padres, manager Buck Showalter told reporters. The outfielder has not played in just over a month after being hit in the hand against the Pirates.
"It's starting to feel better," Marte said. "You still feel a little bit of discomfort. I think the more you keep playing you'll be able to adjust to it and you'll start feeling better.
Marte seemed like a longshot for at least Game 1 after Showalter revealed the outfielder had been unable to hold a bat or throw during fielding drills earlier in the week. However, Marte was still named to the roster for the series on Friday before his unexpected announcement for the lineup.
"I trust him," Showalter said. "Every time we've had something similar to this and he's told me something, as a rule, there's trust there."
Showalter said he moved Marte down in the lineup to limit the possible effects if Marte is ineffective or there's a setback. Marte had a compression band on his finger during pregame warmups - a remedy that was settled on between him and the training staff after experimenting with numerous variations of splints.
Marte said the discomfort is still there, but he is going to fight through it during the most important part of the seasn.
"It means a lot. This team went out and battled when I wasn't around," Marte said. "Now to be able to be here with them and to go into this situation, it means a lot for me to go out and help."
When healthy, Marte has been a major boost for the Mets. The speedster is a major asset defensively and one of the best bats in the Mets' lineup. In 118 games this season, Marte posted a .292 batting average to go along with 16 homers, 63 RBIs and a .347 on-base percentage. After leading all of the National League in stolen bases last season, he took a more calculated approach during the regular season and finished with a team-high 18.
In a lineup that lacks much power outside of Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor, Marte could make an immediate impact. Here is the rest of the lineup for Friday: