EPORT ST. LUCIE — Brandon Nimmo appears to have avoided long-term injury, but his availability to start the season with the Mets is in question.
Imaging performed on the outfielder’s right leg Saturday determined a low-grade sprain to the knee and ankle, according to general manager Billy Eppler, who added Nimmo will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis.
“Good news,” Eppler said at Clover Park. “Everything structurally looks sound … we’ve got some time before Opening Day so we’ll just continue to watch him and get an update probably about a week from now and then we’ll be able to get a little bit better timetable on him.”
Nimmo was helped off the field Friday night during an exhibition game against the Marlins after he hurt himself on a slide into second base while attempting to break up a double play (which was negated because of a catcher’s interference).
Nimmo’s knee was originally checked on the field by the team’s medical staff, but the Mets later announced Nimmo had departed the game with ankle soreness.
The Mets are scheduled to begin their season on March 30 in Miami, leaving Nimmo with less than two weeks to recover if he’s to receive an Opening Day roster spot.
But placed in the context of all that has occurred this week for the Mets, the latest diagnosis had to seem like a positive.
“All and all I feel good about the results that we got, compared to what they could have looked like,” Eppler said.
The most crushing blow was Edwin Diaz’s torn right patellar tendon, which is expected to sideline him for the season.
The All-Star closer sustained the injury during a postgame on-field celebration at the World Baseball Classic and underwent surgery Thursday on his right knee.
Typical recovery time is eight months, but a six-month recovery timetable isn’t out of the question, according to Eppler.
Nonetheless, the Mets are operating under the premise they won’t have Diaz for this season.
The other significant blow was Jose Quintana’s bone-graft surgery to cover a stress fracture and benign lesion on the fifth rib on his left side.
Quintana underwent the surgery Friday, according to Eppler, who previously said the left-hander will return to the team at some point after July 1.
If Nimmo opens the season on the injured list, the Mets will have various possibilities for the leadoff spot and center field.
The most obvious candidate to bat leadoff is Jeff McNeil, who has previous experience in that role.
Tommy Pham has seen significant action in center field this spring and would be a candidate to fill in short term.
Mark Canha falls into the same category and Tim Locastro, whose biggest asset is his speed, could be considered for a roster spot.
Starling Marte has plenty of center field experience, but coming off double groin surgery might not be the best candidate to play the position.
Among the possibilities would be adding Brett Baty to the roster, if Nimmo needs an IL stint, and letting the rookie play third base, with Eduardo Escobar shifting into Pham’s right-handed DH role if Pham plays center field.
Nimmo returned to the Mets last offseason on an eight-year contract worth $162 million after playing a career-high 151 games last season.
He withdrew his name from consideration for the WBC and started late in the Grapefruit League with an eye toward staying healthy for the long run this season.