On Sunday, the wind blowing through Clover Park in Port St. Lucie helped make Mark Canha look foolish as an easy fly ball fell in; extending an inning and allowing two earned runs and additional pitches for David Robertson’s outing.
The hard infield dirt did worse damage to the Mets last week as Brandon Nimmo’s right knee and ankle were sprained on a 4th inning slide against the Marlins in a game that doesn’t count. It’s not the same as Edwin Diaz falling down as his Puerto Rican teammates celebrated a win; mostly because while the closer is done for eight months, Nimmo feels ‘a lot better’ and may be in center field in Miami on March 30.
Less than a fortnight from the start of the 2023 season and Mets’ management is dealing with something they have no control over - injury. Buck Showalter has four Manager of the Year awards, including one from last year. Looks like he’ll have to earn his salary, dealing with injuries to the proverbial arms on his roster.
Diaz - Patellar tendon tear
If you haven’t seen the video, don’t bother. Just know you won’t hear the trumpets until 2024. The timeline for such an injury is around eight months, according to general manager Billy Eppler.
Because baseball has a long season and The Beast demands content; it will surface sounding like “Will Sugar return after six months?”; featuring a sub-title showing his stats from last season.
But that would ignore the fact that Eppler built a 26-man roster with a steady supply of high-leverage relievers. Yes, Robertson and Adam Ottavino will not mimic Diaz’s results from last year. But Mets fans will have half a season to find out and that’s the best anyone could ask for.
For anyone who cares about the payroll numbers; since Sugar’s injury happened while on leave for the World Baseball Classic, the Mets will be reimbursed for the entire 2023 season if he spends the entire season on the IL. That’s roughly $18 million they can dedicate towards arms like…
Sam Coonrod - Right Lat Strain
Coonrod was one of many arms brought on to fill out the back end of the bullpen. Claimed off waivers in early February, he was making a case for a roster spot with five scoreless innings over five appearances on March 14.
After that appearance, he reported right lat soreness. Coonrod underwent imaging the next day that revealed a high-grade lat strain and an official expected return date of ‘TBA’. That sounds like an eventual trip to Syarcuse, similar to the fate awaiting Bryce Montes de Oca.
After walking batters and seeing a dip in velocity on March 12, Montes de Oca was removed from the game, sent for an MRI and has been shut down since. The timetable to re-evaluate the hard-throwing right-hander lines up close to cut down day and with the need to restart throwing; he wouldn’t be available until late April at best.
The best at the back of the bullpen is not a true concern. The arms lined up for Buck at the front end include Robertson, Ottavino, Drew Smith and…
Brooks Raley - left hamstring strain
As an appeal to anyone who watched last year, the Mets actually signed a left-handed reliever so fans wouldn’t have Joely Rodríguez to complain about. Raley had a 2.68 ERA for Tampa Bay last year, including six saves.
He was so good, the San Antonio, Texas native was invited to represent his country in the WBC. But before the tournament games began, Raley suffered a low-grade left hamstring strain and immediately returned to Port. St. Lucie, meaning the Mets lost two pitchers thanks to the preseason exhibition that’s drawn over a million fans to watch in person.
The Mets, the team that traded for his two-year $10 million dollar contract with a team option for 2024, have restarted a throwing program with Raley. There’s “a strong possibility” he’s be available for Opening Day, unlike…
José Quintana - Lesion on rib
The 34-year old was signed a two-year deal for $26 million, essentially to replace either Taijuan Walker or Chris Bassett. When the injury initially happened, there was a slight delay with the team’s official release of the diagnosis.
Eppler called a New York Post report that Quintana would be shut down for three months “premature,” despite the ‘official’ word released in Anthony DiComo’s story being essentially the same. Nevertheless, there’s no hesitation with the problem’s solution.
“Having both (David Peterson) and Tylor (Megill) available at our disposal is a huge luxury for us,” pitching coach Jeremy Hefner told the Post. “It’s one of the reasons we retained (Carlos Carrasco) because those guys are so available from a depth perspective and now unfortunately we have to tap into that a little bit, but that’s why we planned the way we planned in the offseason.”
That plan was on display Sunday with both young pitchers taking the mound against St. Louis. Whether it was the umpire’s interesting take on the strike zone, Megill was unable to adjust and walked five during an outing where he was removed; then returned to start the following inning.
Since these games don’t matter, St. Louis didn’t have an issue with last year’s Opening Day starter getting three outs in the ninth to finish the day on a positive. Especially since he’s more than likely to stay stretched out in upstate New York in a couple of weeks.
A couple weeks from now, the hope is Peterson remains locked in and throwing well. The lefty did walk four, but he struck out four and only gave up one hit - an infield single. He mixed a 95 MPH fastball with a curve that confused Cardinal batters.
He does lose the strike zone, reminding old-school Met fans of Steven Matz and Jon Niese, but between the two young starters, the team’s starting staff should be OK. Especially since…
Kodia Senga - Tendinitis
The team’s Japanese import is no longer listed on the team’s preseason injury list; one that’s way too long for mid-March. Senga turned down the WBC invite, joining the Mets early to adjust to the new environment.
That means a new slope on the pitching mound, but more importantly a bigger baseball. Since holding the object is somewhat important for a starting pitcher, he was held back from spring training starts and looked OK after his first two appearances.
However he was soon scratched after “tendinitis at the base of his right index finger”. The ever-optimistic media started to supply sorrow, but he returned a few days later and threw three solid innings against the Nationals.
It was a small sign of success during a spring training full of sorrow for Mets fans. But we’re only a few days away from nicks and bumps like these feeling more permanent and that’s the truth.
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