WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Mets could head north without Michael Conforto.
The right fielder was diagnosed with a right oblique strain after being sent back to New York to visit team physician David Altchek following an MRI exam.
And general manager Brodie Van Wagenen couldn’t say whether Conforto would be back in time for the season opener against the Nationals on March 26.
“It’s too early to know,’’ Van Wagenen said of whether Conforto would be ready in time for Opening Day. “We’ll see how he responds in the coming days and we’ll evaluate his game-readiness next week and we’ll have more information at that point.”
Conforto suffered the injury making a catch in right field on Saturday.
Van Wagenen said the sun and wind caused Conforto to catch the ball awkwardly and he fell to the ground. He was sent to New York on Monday and headed back to Port St. Lucie on Tuesday.
Brandon Nimmo played right field Monday, moved back to center Tuesday and said he’d be able to play either position if necessary.
Conforto’s oblique strain could put an end to the team’s goal of getting through spring training without a significant injury, since he’ll be shut down from swinging for at least the next few days and won’t be reevaluated until next week, with Opening Day fast approaching.
“It’s hard to assess if this or any other injury is a major injury at this stage of the game,’’ Van Wagenen said. “Health is always important in camp. We’ve been very pleased with how healthy guys have been.”
He pointed to J.D. Davis’ jammed left shoulder that cost him nearly two weeks, as well as Conforto’s, which could keep him out considerably longer.
“I wouldn’t call those major injuries,’’ Van Wagenen said. “Knock on wood, we’ll see how everything progresses and hopefully we can be healthy when the season starts.”
The possibility of Conforto missing the early part of the season is quite real, since oblique injuries can take time to heal fully. Van Wagenen said he was unsure of the severity of the strain.
“There were no details,’’ Van Wagenen said. “It’s always very difficult to speculate on what-ifs when we’re talking about two weeks out.”
If he’s not able to play, Davis, Dominic Smith and Jarrett Parker could get time in left.
“We have a lot of in-house solutions we feel good about and fortunately we have a lot of versatility on our roster,’’ Van Wagenen said. “We can attempt to absorb any issues that pop up with our players.’’
Another possible — but unlikely — option, Yoenis Cespedes, has been running, but has so far been limited to drills and simulated games and there’s no telling when he’ll play in his first Grapefruit League game of the spring.
“We’ve been pleased with the progress he’s made,” Van Wagenen said said of Cespedes, still rehabbing from ankle and heel injuries.
No matter what solution they come up with, if Conforto is out, it will hurt — something Nimmo, who saw his first game action in right field on Monday, admitted.
“We want him healthy for the season,’’ Nimmo said of Conforto. “Whatever that takes, I don’t care. I just want him playing right field when the season comes.”
The only Met to finish 2019 with more homers and RBIs than Conforto was NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso.
“For me, he’s one of our best hitters,’’ Robinson Cano said. “He can face anybody and hit a liner or a homer any time of the game. He’s a guy you want at the plate in close games.”