Marte in Mets lineup, Alvarez also on playoff roster vs Padres

New York Mets' Starling Marte watches his RBI single against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the seventh inning of a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, in New York. (Adam Hunger/AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — All-Star right fielder Starling Marte is in the New York Mets‘ starting lineup for their playoff opener Friday night against San Diego, back from a broken finger that sidelined him the past month.

Marte had been out since breaking the middle finger on his right (throwing) hand Sept. 6 when hit by a 96 mph fastball from Pittsburgh’s Mitch Keller.

Mets manager Buck Showalter said Marte has been taking simulated at-bats against teammates “behind the scenes” for a little while in an attempt to get ready, including during Thursday’s workout day. Showalter, however, acknowledged the club isn’t sure what Marte can provide at this point.

“We knew it was a possibility, but there’s some unknown,” Showalter said. “He’s a guy that we’ve trusted with certain things over the years. You learn. Who knows? There’s some unknown there. Who’s 100% this time of year? We’ll see.”

New York also included 20-year-old Francisco Alvarez on the wild-card series roster. Alvarez debuted in the majors Sept. 30 and went 2 for 12 with a homer, a double and two walks in five regular-season games.

Marte was set to start in right field and bat sixth. Normally the team’s No. 2 hitter, he batted .292 with 16 homers, 63 RBIs, 18 stolen bases and an .814 OPS in 118 games this season, his first with New York. He’s been working out in the outfield in addition to taking swings — but the Mets had said recently Marte still felt discomfort and wasn’t making much progress yet.

“I’m hoping that things go well and we move him back up tomorrow,” Showalter said.

Alvarez, rated baseball’s top prospect by MLB.com before his call-up from the minors, brings a right-handed bat off the bench and could start at designated hitter in Game 2 against lefty Blake Snell.

“He’s handled himself well. Really like his selectiveness the last couple games,” Showalter said. “It will get sped back up again. He’s going to be a good one. Just a matter of when. I hope it’s the next three games.”

Left-hander Sean Manaea was included on San Diego’s roster and right-hander Mike Clevinger was left off. Manaea threw 66 pitches Tuesday in a win at San Francisco; Clevinger last pitched Saturday and Padres manager Bob Melvin said Thursday he was headed to New York following a negative COVID-19 test.

The Mets made a handful of somewhat surprising decisions. With five left-handers on San Diego’s 12-man pitching staff, including four relievers, New York dropped left-handed-hitting outfielder Tyler Naquin from the roster.

Naquin is hitless in his last 18 at-bats with seven strikeouts. He batted .180 against lefties this season and .229 overall with 11 home runs.

“This is three games,” Showalter said. “We feel like this is the best way for us to go against what we think is going to be thrown at us.”

Slumping DH Darin Ruf, a right-handed batter who had been on the injured list with a neck strain, was included on the roster and was on the bench Friday night.

“He’s been taking some at-bats for a while now, the last four or five days, and feels good. He had some good at-bats yesterday. Took about five or six, maybe more than that,” Showalter said. “He and Starling have done a lot of work to be ready.”

Starting pitchers Taijuan Walker and Carlos Carrasco were left off for the best-of-three series, with right-hander Tylor Megill getting a spot in the bullpen. Walker and Carrasco both started Tuesday in a doubleheader against Washington.

Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Chris Bassitt are New York’s starters for the series. Scherzer is scheduled to pitch the opener, and the result of Game 1 will determine whether it’s deGrom or Bassitt in Game 2.

Megill began the season in the rotation and pitched well early. After a long stay on the injured list with a strained right shoulder, he transitioned to the bullpen and made his first major league relief appearance on Sept. 19.

But the right-hander hasn’t quite flourished in his new role, allowing four runs over six innings in six relief outings. He went on the COVID-19 injured list Wednesday to open a roster spot for right-hander Mychal Givens, who also made the playoff roster.

Trevor Williams, who did a fine job all season as a long reliever and spot starter, was left off. The right-hander pitched six innings in the regular-season finale Wednesday to keep most of New York’s short relievers fully rested.

Both teams are carrying 12 pitchers and 14 position players.

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