PORT ST. LUCIE — The Mets are prepared to make room for Michael Conforto.
A day after Juan Lagares strained his left oblique running out a foul ball, manager Terry Collins indicated it would be Conforto in line for a roster spot, as the backup center fielder, should Lagares begin the season on the disabled list.
Lagares is expected to receive an MRI exam on Monday for the strained oblique.
“It feels way better than [Saturday],” Lagares said. “I know I felt something, but this is not real bad.”
Conforto, who is batting .340 in spring training, would likely begin the season at Triple-A Las Vegas if Lagares opens the season with the Mets. But Conforto is the Mets’ only real backup option for Curtis Granderson in center if Lagares isn’t ready.
“If Juan is hurt, Mike is the best [backup] option to play center field,” Collins said.
Josh Smoker, who fired a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts in the Mets’ 8-2 exhibition victory over the Braves, appears to have locked up a roster spot. The lefty has a 1.50 ERA in 12 appearances this spring.
“He’s had a great spring,” Collins said. “He’s using his secondary pitches more than he has in the past — he was just rear back and hum it, and now he’s actually using different things — and he’s made a huge advancement for me. Certainly he’s got to be a heavy favorite to make our club.”
Fernando Salas had his best relief appearance of the Grapefruit League season, retiring two batters in the seventh — another reached on Asdrubal Cabrera’s fielding error. The righty has been behind schedule after a work-visa issue prevented him from pitching early in the exhibition season.
Kevin Plawecki has quietly had a decent spring offensively. The catcher, who is expected to begin the season at Triple-A Las Vegas, finished 2-for-3 in the Mets’ 8-2 exhibition victory over the Braves and is batting .269 this spring.
Asdrubal Cabrera, Curtis…