Port St. LUCIE — On the surface at least, it was business as usual metsclubhouse Thursday afternoon, some players packing for a trip to a game in West Palm Beach, others shooting the breeze at their lockers before workouts. at one point buck showalter Told a joke to a group of players in the middle of the room, and they laughed hysterically.
It didn’t mean they weren’t hurting Edwin Diaz, his fallen teammate and closest closer in baseball last year. That’s the way of the world for pro athletes; They are hardened to the reality of injuries, always pushing forward, knowing the game must be played no matter what.
Yet beneath that surface, when the players were asked personally about Diaz, there was no mistaking the bombshell on him. Probably more on a personal level than anything else.
they were just told as a team that Diaz will almost certainly be out for the seasonwas undergoing surgery Thursday afternoon after tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee in a group celebration of his defense in Wednesday night’s WBC game, and was revealing that all he really wanted to talk about was off the field. what did they mean to them outside. So on to that.
“She was a beacon of light for me,” said drew smith, “He’s always happy, always smiling. Over the course of a long season, with the ups and downs of baseball, always encouraging a fellow relief pitcher, whether he pitches good or bad, to keep a consistently positive presence.” Which has also been through ups and downs.
“It’s just a dagger, it’s really, it’s something that everybody loves.”
brandon nimmo Said Diaz’s impact extended well beyond that of his fellow relievers.
Nimmo said, “He always brought a big, infectious smile and personality to the clubhouse.” “He was never worried, never nervous. Those are the things you can’t replace.”
Of course, you could also make the case that a closer Diaz can’t be replaced at least as the 2022 version of “Sugar,” as his teammates call him, who last season practically was untouchable, striking out a remarkable 17.1 at bats. nine innings.
Yet this is where the players differ from the fans and the media. Part of them is trained to believe that they can beat, that someone on a talent-rich team like the Mets will step up to work the ninth inning. Or maybe more than just one man.
In fact, Nimmo mentioned it immediately david robertson Has experience, and, “He’s just bad.”
Even at the age of 37, Robertson now looms as the candidate for most completions. Perhaps Showalter will find a matchup spot to use the left-hander Brooks Raleigh In the ninth inning. as much as may dictate the use of matchups Adam Ottavino At the spot where his wide slider could shut down some tough right-handed batsmen.
But because runners stole bases easily from Ottavino last season, and left-handers hit .304 against him, Robertson may be best suited to get those last three outs.
On Thursday, he said he would be fine with whatever decision Showalter made.
Robertson said, “I came here to pitch where they want me and have a chance to win a championship.” “I think getting out in the last innings is equally important. The ninth inning has been extended a bit longer.
Mets fans might argue that there’s more to it, haunted for years by the closer’s failures at big venues, and that was largely the beauty of Diaz. For the first time in forever, it seemed the home fans weren’t fearing the worst with a one-run lead in the ninth inning.
Instead Diaz made those last three outings a celebration, starting with trumpet music. In fact, when they eliminated the LA Dodgers in the ninth inning of the night, Timmy Trumpet played Diaz’s entrance song live, a potential dystopia if ever there was one, as the Mets faithful were certain this was their year.
Turns out it definitely wasn’t, but by the end Diaz was practically perfect. And now he’s likely gone for the season due to GM’s weird injury billy appler He said he can’t be sure exactly how it happened at that festival on Wednesday.
Epler said that this type of tear in the patellar tendon usually occurs “when force is applied to the knee,” indicating that perhaps one of his teammates on Team Puerto Rico accidentally caused the injury.
In any case, the news impressed everyone in the organization, with Eppler noting that when he spoke with Diaz on the phone Wednesday night after the injury, “he was in high spirits.”
Appler laughed and said, “The friend doesn’t bother.”
It seemed like small consolation for a team whose owner has taken payroll to record-setting levels this season in pursuit of a championship. But the more you talked to players after Epler’s press conference, the more you could sense that hearing Diaz in relatively good spirits meant something to everyone.
“That’s why we love him,” Drew Smith said. “Who is he.”
This is what they will remember. The rest of it, somehow, they’re convinced they’ll figure it out.