Don’t blame the World Baseball Classic. Edwin Diaz’s injury was just a ‘freak accident’

PHOENIX — New York Mets infielders Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil sat on the bench at Chase Field on Wednesday night and watched Team USA is fighting for a spot in the quarterfinals of the WBCwhen coach Michael Young walked over to see her.

“I have really bad news,” Young said.

And the words slowly trickled out of his mouth.

Her beloved Mets’ teammate, All-Star closer, Edwin Diazinjured his right knee while celebrating Puerto Rico’s victory over the Dominican Republic.

There was no word on how serious the injury was and no one wanted to speculate, but it looked awful, the kind of injury that can end a season.

The Mets will have Diaz undergo MRI tests Thursday to determine severity.

“Just really heartbreaking,” said Alonso. “We know how hard he worked and how hard he played in the team. I just find him awful. He’s worked really hard to get to where he is.

“I mean, he was just an absolute force last year. Such a great teammate. I’m frustrated for him. We will surely miss him.”

Edin Diaz after suffering a knee injury in Puerto Rico’s win on Wednesday.

Diaz, who turns 29 on March 22, is considered the best closer in baseball. He saved 32 games last season and hit 118 batters in just 62 innings for a 1.31 ERA. The Mets signed him to a Five-year, $102 million contractthe most paid helper before meeting the free hand.

“It’s a coincidence, a sad scene.” Said Mets helper Adam Ottavino. “It could have happened in any situation, regardless. I don’t think the tournament is to blame.

“It’s awful. I know what it meant for him to be in this situation and for Puerto Rico. I know what kind of kid he is. I know how hard he works. I know how much he cares I know what he means to Puerto Rico and the Mets.

“It’s a gut punch.”

Here he was in Miami, coming on in the ninth inning with a blare of horns “Narco” sounds from the loudspeakers.. He hit the side, salvaging Puerto Rico’s 5-2 win and sparking a wild celebration.

Seconds later, the celebration ended as Diaz collapsed to the ground, parched in pain.

There was no music in the Puerto Rico clubhouse, just muffled tones.

“Calm down,” Puerto Rico outfielder Enrique Hernandez described the scene. “As excited as we were about the game and all that, this is one of our brothers. Some of us grew up together and so on with the game and care about us as people.”

Diaz’s injury even dampened Team USA’s enthusiasm after their 3-2 win over Colombia, word of which spread quickly after the game.

“I hate it,” said Daniel Bard, a US aid worker. “I hate to see anyone get hurt and I really hate to see it happen to one of the greats of our game. He’s got the most electrifying stuff the game has ever seen.

“If guys like him and [starter Jacob] DeGrom gets hurt, man. Even just watching them in the field, you just appreciate how difficult what they are doing and how rare it is.”

The injury caused an uproar on social media, with people blaming the World Baseball Classic for Diaz’s injury and threatening the Mets’ season.

The cold-hearted reality was that no player believed it was anything other than an accidental injury.

“I don’t think you can blame the tournament for that,” Bard said. “It’s a random thing. It could have happened during a workout in a weight room.”

Alonso said: “Every day you show up in the yard there’s a chance of getting hurt. There are dangers in the job. Anyone can get hurt at any time.”

So, blaming the WBC for believing the timing of the tournament led to Diaz’s injury and believing it will keep players away going forward is wrong.

“I mean, these things,” said US outfielder Mookie Betts, “they can happen to anyone at any time. And you can always try to blame the WBC, but that’s just a crazy accident.”

Said US teammate Mike Trout: “Obviously there is a risk involved. You still play baseball and it’s spring training.”

The WBC will continue, as will Puerto Rico, who will be back on the field on Friday to play Mexico in the quarterfinals.

There will be pain and much sadness, but no one blames Diaz’s injury on anything other than coincidence. Guys rejoice after big wins all the time. There were many injuries caused at wild clubhouse celebrations.

This happened coincidentally at the WBC, on a national stage for all the world to see.

“He has a really big bank account,” Hernandez said, “but his heart is a lot bigger than his bank account. He’s one of the really special people that we have in this clubhouse.

“I mean, it doesn’t matter who it would have been, it would have sucked either way, but the fact that it was him is a huge blow in more ways than one.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Edwin Diaz injured in ‘freak accident’ – Don’t blame the WBC

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