New York Mets outfielder Starling Martes had been struggling with a groin injury dating back to November of 2022, but according to the team the 35-year-old looks to be in good form as the MLB season begins.

“I continue to think with Starling the most important thing is health,” Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “And what we’ve seen is that he’s a healthy player.”

Marte missed the final two months of last season due to a groin injury but has gone through adequate rehab to satisfy both himself and the team. He made multiple appearances in the Dominican Winter League but struggled in Spring Training with only a .159 batting average. Marte finished pre-season ball playing 16 games and scoring four runs on a .245 on-base percentage, but his return proves hopeful for New York.

“During spring training you are working on different things so you just have to make sure you are going out there and getting the reps that you need,” Marte said through an interpreter. “Obviously you are able to look at those numbers and that is why you ask, but those numbers don’t really matter.”

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Before having groin surgery in late 2022, Marte finished the year as an All-Star with a .292 batting average, a .347 on-base percentage, .468 slugging and 16 home runs in 118 games. As the Mets look to make a playoff run, they hope to find the same Marte from 2022 on their roster this year.

“I worked really hard this offseason to correct a lot of the things that went wrong last season physically, so once I was able to play those games in the winter league where I was able to run the bases and feel good there, that is when I kind of when it clicked for me,” Marte said.

Marte was also asked by team manager Carlos Mendoza if he would be open to playing in the designated hitter role, but that was a week before they signed DH J.D. Martinez. Marte was originally hesitant about the idea, but after conversations with Mendoza and Martinez, he agreed that he could play the DH role in a limited span this season.

“It was one of those things where [Mendoza] said it can favor me in the long run — how my body could benefit from it,” Marte said. “After the signing, we had to have another conversation, and I told them if that’s what they want, on some days to play DH, I will still do it and [Mendoza] was able to speak to me in a way I could understand because it’s not something that I have done… When you have a hitter of that caliber it’s going to make an impact and I felt like we needed to have that type of impact bat in the lineup,”

Marte has been in the league since 2012, but only once has played more than 150 games in a season. As a player whose career has been marked by multiple long-term injuries, Marte’s efforts this season will impact the success of a Mets team with only one playoff appearance since 2016.

Marte signed a four-year $78 million deal with New York in 2022 and is currently set to make $19.5 million this year. Since signing the deal the right fielder has proved his value, as long as he can stay healthy. The Mets are set to owe the 35-year-old $41.5 million over the next two years, but he could go unsigned after that if his injuries continue. If he does find a healthy stretch this season, Marte could be the deciding factor for a team desperate for postseason success.

“If he does that,” Mendoza said, “we’re going to be in pretty good shape.”

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