LOS ANGELES — As Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez approach their returns from the injured list, the Mets already are planning accordingly.
The duo worked out Thursday before the Mets’ 4-1 loss to the Dodgers, where Lindor, who is recovering from a strained right oblique, hit left-handed for the first time. He batted right-handed for a second time. Baez, who has been out because of back spasms, took swings and fielded grounders, according to manager Luis Rojas.
Though the team hasn’t reached a final decision on possible rehab assignments for Lindor and Baez, the manager said both might skip that step and return directly to the Mets’ roster, possibly within the next week.
When both return, Rojas expects Lindor to play shortstop, with Baez at second base. With that in mind, Jeff McNeil has begun taking grounders at third base and working in the outfield, according to Rojas.
Baez has not been considered for third base, the manager said. Rojas said Lindor and Baez have joked about switching positions in the middle of the game.
“They are both great athletes, great competitors, so I think up the middle they are going to cover a lot of ground,” Rojas said. “With our shifts they are going to be moving all around, too, so it’s good that they work from every angle, but right now we’re thinking Francisco is going to be at shortstop and Javy at second.”
Where does that leave second baseman McNeil?
“We’ve had the conversation where this scenario could be and [McNeil] will have to go to third,” Rojas said. “The other thing we’re doing with him is going and taking some reps in the outfield. He can go and play some left. J.D. [Davis] has been good at third and he’s been one of our best hitters. It will be hard to take J.D. out of the lineup. We’re working with Mac.”
Rojas was optimistic that James McCann, who did not play for a third straight game Thursday with back spasms, might avoid a stint on the injured list. Patrick Mazeika started behind the plate and went 1-for-3. Chance Sisco, who arrived from Triple-A Syracuse a day earlier, was another option at catcher if needed.