Mets INF T.J. Rivera, who had Tommy John surgery on his injured right elbow on Sept. 14, hopes to begin throwing in February and is aiming to return by May.
"Tough part of the offseason is trying to stay really positive about when I'm going to be ready," Rivera said during a phone interview with Matt Ehalt. "It's tough to be on the sideline watching it."
While pitchers usually miss between 12 and 18 months recovering from Tommy John surgery, position players can return in as little as six months.
The 29-year-old Rivera, who landed on the disabled list on June 28 with a partial tear of his UCL, attempted to rehab the injury before deciding on surgery.
He hit .290/.330/.430 with five HR, 13 doubles, and 27 RBI in 73 games for the Mets in 2017 while playing second base, third base, first base, and left field, putting his name in the discussion for a more regular role going forward. During his rookie season in 2016, Rivera hit .333/.345/.476 in 33 games.
The Mets' left side of the infield in 2018 is expected to be Asdrubal Cabrera and Amed Rosario, with first base filled by either Adrian Gonzalez (if healthy) or Dominic Smith. The second baseman is expected to come from outside the organization, with the team having recently been connected to Pirates INF/OF Josh Harrison, and free agent infielders Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, and Neil Walker.
With the Mets having recently re-signed Jose Reyes to be a utility player, there might not be room on the 25-man roster for Rivera when he returns -- especially if the team carries eight relievers and only four bench players.
Aside from Reyes, the Mets' bench will likely consist of whoever isn't starting between Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo, whoever isn't starting between Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, and Wilmer Flores.