Starling Marte, dealing with sore oblique, hopes to start hitting soon

A sore oblique is slowing down the Mets’ new centerfielder. (Michael Wyke/AP)

PORT ST. LUCIE – Starling Marte spent the first week of spring training nursing a sore left oblique. But he hopes to join his teammates and start hitting in the coming days.

The new Mets outfielder “had a good day” on Sunday, said manager Buck Showalter. The skipper stopped short of providing any so rt of timeline on Marte’s next steps, largely because Showalter doesn’t want it to become a hot topic in the event Marte deviates from his progress.

Marte said he expects to start hitting sometime in the next week, and he’s been able to do “everything else,” like running and playing defense. Both Marte and Showalter believe he remains on track to be ready by Opening Day, if not shortly thereafter.

But there is some ambiguity about what exactly is bothering Marte. The Mets and Showalter are referring to Marte’s injury as oblique soreness. But Marte on Sunday said the MRI showed “something, not a broken rib, but something.” When asked what it showed, and whether it had to do with his intercostal muscles, Marte said: “Something like that.” Generally, the centerfielder was pretty tight-lipped about what exactly he is currently going through.

Marte sustained a rib fracture while playing for the Marlins last April that caused him to miss a month of the season. The rib injury was on his left side, the same side as his current oblique soreness.

“I don’t know. It’s weird,” Marte said when asked if his current oblique injury and last year’s rib fracture are connected. “They think it was my oblique. I think [so] too. But [the] MRI shows something a little bit different and started working with that.”

Marte said he felt the soreness in his left side before he came to spring training. Once he arrived at camp last Saturday, a couple days after MLB’s lockout was lifted, he told Mets trainers about the ache around his left oblique.

Showalter said the Mets went through “three different imaging systems” to make sure there were no damages or fractures along Marte’s left side. The tests came back negative, which was a positive sign for the centerfielder.

To Showalter’s knowledge, Marte’s soreness is strictly oblique-related. Still, the club is being extra cautious with Marte’s progress in spring.

“If you come back too quick from that, it turns into a long-term thing,” Showalter said of Marte’s oblique discomfort.