The latest from the NL East:
- Mets outfielder Michael Conforto suggested Saturday that he’s unsure if he’ll be able to slot into the team’s lineup on Opening Day next year, according to James Wagner of the New York Times (Twitter link). Conforto suffered a torn capsule in his left shoulder in late August, ending his season, and then underwent surgery earlier this month. The 24-year-old noted that the procedure should help stave off future shoulder dislocations, which would certainly be optimal for him and the Mets. Conforto emerged as a breakout performer and one of the few bright spots for the woebegone Mets before the injury, hitting .279/.384/.555 with 27 home runs in 440 plate appearances. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said on the heels of Conforto’s surgery that the club’s optimistic he won’t have to alter his swing upon returning. He’s roughly six months away from resuming baseball activities.
- Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper is “very close” to making his highly anticipated return, manager Dusty Baker told Mark Zuckerman of MASNSports.com and other reporters Saturday. Harper, out since Aug. 13 with injuries to his left knee and calf, could be back in Washington’s lineup as early as Monday, per Zuckerman. That would give the superstar a week to readjust to game action before the Nationals’ NLDS matchup against a to-be-determined opponent (likely the Cubs).
- The Braves’ previously reported agreement with Korean shortstop prospect Jihwan Bae became an official signing Saturday, according to Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Braves have high hopes for the 18-year-old Bae, whom special assistant Chad MacDonald heaped praise on Saturday. “It’s an elite runner, top-of-the-scale runner,” MacDonald said. “He’s very athletic. He stays at shortstop, he’s going to be a solid to plus defender there. His bat-to-ball skills are really good. There’s more power in the bat. If everything clicks, we have a left-handed version of Trea Turner, who I signed in San Diego. Again, maybe not that much power, but certainly the impact speed and defense, with bat-to-ball skills and a left-handed hitter.” As MacDonald mentioned, he was in the Padres’ front office when they inked Turner after selecting him 13th in the 2014 draft. Turner has since blossomed into a star with the Nats.