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Seth Lugo on recovery track after elbow surgery

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Among the least visible players at Mets camp is Seth Lugo, who has been confined mostly to the weight and trainer’s rooms since undergoing surgery in mid-February to remove a bone spur from his elbow. Team doctors won’t clear Lugo to throw a baseball until at least late March, meaning he won’t be ready nearly in time for Opening Day.

Lugo, who also missed Opening Day 2017 due to a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament, knows how much of a “bummer” that will be. All he can do is follow the program the Mets have in place for him in an effort to recover as soon as possible.

“Right now we’re on track,” Lugo said on Thursday, approximately two weeks after his operation. “I’m working out, doing my shoulder programs, keeping the legs in shape, riding a bike. Just planning on throwing once we get there, but everything’s going well right now, and I’m feeling pretty good.”

Although Lugo won’t put a timetable on his return, it seems unlikely he’ll be able to rejoin them before June given the ramp-up progression he’ll need: throwing off flat ground, then off the slope of a mound, then full-fledged bullpen sessions, live batting practice and, finally, rehab games, with plenty of off-days in between. That takes time.

The Mets are well-covered in Lugo’s absence given the number of other proven arms in their bullpen, but they’ll still be eager to have him back. In 2018-19, Lugo was easily the team’s best reliever, posting a 2.68 ERA with 207 strikeouts in 181 1/3 innings. The Mets moved him to the rotation in the middle of last summer, but he’s likely back in the bullpen for the long-term, giving the Mets a multi-inning fireman option once he’s healthy.

“It’s a bummer watching everyone throw when I don’t get to,” Lugo said. “But one day at a time, that’s the best way to approach it. That’s how I stay focused and get the most out of every day, so I want to try to keep that mentality.”

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