Mets-Cubs preview

CHICAGO — The New York Mets didn't bring outfielder Michael Conforto back up to ride the bench but exactly where the New York outfielder will play is still up for grabs.

Left field is a possible spot, but the Mets won't rule out center as this week's series with the Chicago Cubs continues at Wrigley Field. But wherever he lands, he's expected to be in the lineup.

“If you're Michael Conforto and you're sitting on the bench in the big leagues, that's not how you develop players, so he'll play,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “We need him to hit, and we need him to hit a lot.”

Conforto was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, where he hit .344 with 15 runs scored, four doubles, two triples, three homers and 15 RBIs in 16 games.

“They (the Las Vegas staff) told me they thought he was ready,” Collins said. “The goal was to get him to swing back on plane and stay to the baseball a little bit better and get away from the pull mode. They say he was swinging great, so the powers that be said it was time.”

He started the season with the Mets and hit .222 with 10 homers and 65 RBIs before being optioned to Las Vegas on June 25.

In a corresponding move, the Mets optioned Brandon Nimmo to Las Vegas.

Conforto entered Monday's game as a ninth-inning pinch hitter and singled to left as he beat a Cubs shift that left the left side of the infield open.

A lengthy All-Star game break was apparently beneficial for Tuesday's scheduled starter Noah Syndergaard (9-4, 2.56 ERA). He feeling better after suffering arm fatigue in the fifth inning of his last start on July 8.

“The last couple of days he feels fine,” Collins said. “The rest has been good for him.”

Syndergaard goes up against Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner who has struggled with three losses in his last four starts. He's had 10 days between starts — a break built around the All Star game — and feels rested.

Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is officially gone for the season, but his 2017 prospects improved on Monday after undergoing successful surgery in St. Louis to treat a thoracic outlet syndrome injury. The surgery involved removal of a rib to ease pressure in his pitching arm.

The nerve condition affects shoulders, the neck, arms and hands and caused numbness and discomfort in Harvey's right arm.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he places no special emphasis on this series, despite a four-game Mets sweep in last year's National League Championship Series and the more recent four straight New York victories at Citi Field.

The Cubs swept all seven regular-season games from the Mets in 2015.

“You don't want to apply any more weight to any particular game,” Maddon said. “The concept that I always try build from spring training is I want to play the same game on March 15 as we did on June 15 as we did on Oct. 15. I never want us to ever work with that dimmer switch, definitely not with an on-off switch.

“You never want to raise and lower based on competition. Every game counts.”

The series concludes with a Wednesday day game as New York sends right-hander Bartolo Colon (8-4, 3.11) against Cubs righty Kyle Hendricks (8-6, 2.41).