J.D. Martinez watch: Mets’ DH returns in minor league game, with possible team debut as soon as Friday

JD Martinez Mets trade rumors
JD Martinez as a member of the Boston Red Sox (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

J.D. Martinez’s back troubles appeared to be behind him Sunday and he could join the Mets as early as this Friday at Citi Field, according to team skipper Carlos Mendoza.

Martinez returned to the field in St. Lucie on Sunday for the Single-A Mets affiliate after being sidelined for about a week with lower back tightness. He garnered two hits, including a double with a prodigious 101 mph exit velocity, in his return to action.

If that wasn’t a good enough sign for Mets fans, Mendoza offered even better news ahead of the club’s Sunday game against the Los Angeles Dodgers: Should all go well, Martinez could be in the Mets lineup starting on Friday night when the club opens a three-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals in Flushing.

“He’s gonna DH Tuesday and Wednesday [with Triple-A Syracuse], we’ll see how he comes out after those two days, and hopefully, he’s a player for us on Friday,” Mendoza told reporters Sunday morning in Los Angeles. (h/t SNY)

For the Mets, Martinez’s potential debut is sorely welcomed after losing catcher Francisco Alvarez on Saturday to a torn ligament in his left hand. Alvarez is expected to be sidelined between 6-8 weeks, and until he is fully recovered, the Mets will have to rely on a rather light-hitting catching tandem in Omar Narvaez and Tomas Nido.

Martinez signed with the Mets in late March on a 1 year, $12 million deal. He experienced lower back tightness on April 9 while ramping up to regular action during his minor league assignment and received an injection for treatment.

A healthy Martinez would do wonders for the Mets lineup, giving them a right-handed power bat to supplement Pete Alonso. Last year with the Dodgers, Martinez mashed 33 home runs and drove in 103 runs while hitting to a .893 OPS. 

In his absence, the Mets have largely turned to backup outfielder D.J. Stewart to fill the designated hitter role. After a slow start, the left-handed Stewart has heated up in recent days, with 6 hits in his last 12 at-bats. Friday night, he hit a home run off the Dodgers’ Yoshinobu Yamamoto and drove in three runs, helping the Mets win the first game of the three-game set.

Having won Saturday’s contest as well, the Mets look to sweep the Dodgers Sunday afternoon. Adrian Houser takes the mound for the Amazin’s against the Dodgers’ Tyler Glasnow.