WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — After a difficult debut with the Mets, Darin Ruf unofficially began his comeback attempt Tuesday night. 

Ruf, who had been sidelined early in camp because of arthritis in his wrist, appeared in his first Grapefruit League game and got the start at first base as the Mets tied the Astros, 5-5. 

The 36-year-old primarily was used as a designated hitter last season, but he is capable of playing first base and left field.

With Pete Alonso away from the Mets to play in the World Baseball Classic, Ruf stepped in at first. 

“Felt good,” manager Buck Showalter said after Ruf went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. “See if he plays again [Wednesday], see how he feels.” 

Ruf had been ramping up his baseball activities in January when his wrist began to bother him, and he received a cortisone shot two weeks ago that has appeared to help.

Darin Ruf will get time at first while Pete Alonso heads to the WBC.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

He has been swinging in the batting cage and taking ground balls in camp.

Showalter said “in a perfect world” the Mets would try him in the outfield this spring, too, but the outfield picture is more crowded than first base. 

Without Alonso, Daniel Vogelbach, Luis Guillorme, Mark Vientos and even outfielder Mark Canha should see time at first.

Of the group, Vientos is the biggest threat to Ruf’s job as a righty hitter who can be platooned with Vogelbach at DH. 

Pete Alonso #20 of Team USA poses for a portrait ahead of the World Baseball Classic
Pete Alonso of Team USA poses for a portrait ahead of the World Baseball Classic.
Getty Images

Ruf has a history of destroying opposing southpaws, and he was excellent against lefties as recently as 2021, when he posted a 1.007 OPS in 140 plate appearances with the Giants that season.

But after he came over from San Francisco in a deadline trade last season, he never looked comfortable.

He went just 10-for-66 (.152) without a home run with the Mets. 

After throwing a second scoreless inning, Tylor Megill talked at length with home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale. 

Barksdale’s message, according to Megill: A shoe-tie counts as a mound visit. 

Megill had tied his cleats, which counted against the Mets’ five mound visits allowed. Pitchers cannot knot their cleats to buy extra time on the pitch clock, which Megill learned. 

Joey Lucchesi made his Grapefruit League debut after he missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. 

In one inning, the lefty let up a run on two walks and a single. 

Utility infielder Danny Mendick, who crashed into White Sox teammate Adam Engel last June and tore his ACL, is expected to make his Mets exhibition debut Wednesday in Port St. Lucie against Team Nicaragua. 

Mendick, who basically is another Guillorme but bats from the right side, is “pretty excited,” Showalter said. He should play three or four innings. 

Starling Marte, who is coming back from surgeries on both groins this offseason, is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut Friday.