WASHINGTON — At various points after crashing into the center-field fence at Citi Field last month, Albert Almora Jr. both feared for the worst and expected a quick return.
Five weeks after sustaining his left shoulder contusion, the Mets’ 27-year-old outfielder is set to return. Following the Mets’ 1-0 loss to the Nationals on Friday, manager Luis Rojas said Almora will be activated from the injured list Saturday.
In addition to his shoulder injury, Almora was also dealing with a torn ligament in his right big toe.
“When I first hit the wall I thought it was going to be a lot worse and then I had the MRI and I got my results back and I thought it was going to be quicker,” Almora said of his May 11 injuries. “But [the toe] is a tedious injury that could turn into a long-term effect and I didn’t want to do that, I didn’t want it to linger, so I took the advice of the trainers. I thought I took the right amount of time and I did it as fast as I could.”
Almora’s return — he is primarily a late-inning defensive replacement — will leave the Mets facing a tough roster decision. Mason Williams, Jose Peraza and Brandon Drury are among the team’s bench players. Of that group, Drury and Peraza have minor league options remaining.
Brandon Nimmo could begin a minor league rehab assignment within the coming week, according to Rojas. The outfielder, who has been rehabbing from ligament damage in his left hand, began taking batting practice on the field in recent days.
The Mets are likely to activate Jeff McNeil from the injured list on Monday, when they return to Citi Field. Previously, the club had been considering a Sunday return for McNeil, but with left-hander Patrick Corbin scheduled to pitch that day for the Nationals, team officials are leaning toward waiting the extra day. McNeil was placed on the IL with a left hamstring strain on May 17.
Sean Reid-Foley and Robert Gsellman are candidates to start the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader, according to Rojas. David Peterson is scheduled to start Game 1.
The Mets have further options in Jerad Eickhoff and Yennsy Diaz, both of whom accompanied the team as part of the taxi squad. Eickhoff would have to be added to the 40-man roster if the Mets want to use him.
Gsellman was the most rested of the group entering Friday — he hadn’t pitched since facing the Orioles on June 8, when he allowed four earned runs over 2 ¹/₃ innings.