Why replacing Edwin Diaz for Mets will be a struggle — especially off the field

Edwin Diaz screams Mets pinstripes night game October 2022 / Brad Penner – USA TODAY Sports

PORT ST. LUCIE: At least on the surface it was the same as always meads‘ Clubhouse on Thursday afternoon, some players packing up for a trip to a game in West Palm Beach, others shooting the breeze at their lockers before practice. at one point Buck Showalter told a joke to a group of players in the middle of the room, and they laughed hysterically.

This is baseball.

That didn’t mean it didn’t hurt them Edwin Diaz, her fallen teammate and the top closer in baseball for the last year. It’s just the way of the world for professional athletes; They’re hardening to the reality of injuries, they’re always moving on, and they know the games have to be played no matter what.

But beneath that surface, when players were individually asked about Diaz, there was no mistaking the bombshell that had been dropped on them. Perhaps more on a personal level than anything else.

They had just been told that as a team Diaz will almost certainly be out for the seasonwho underwent surgery Thursday afternoon after tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee at a group celebration of his parade in Wednesday night’s WBC game, and it was revealing that all they really wanted to talk about was what he told them so off the field meant more than on it.

“He was a beacon for me,” he said Drew Smith. “He’s always cheerful, always smiling. Over the course of a long season, with baseball’s ups and downs, for another reserve pitcher who’s also been through the ups and downs, it’s always encouraging to have a constant positive presence, whether he’s throwing well or badly.

“It’s just a dagger, it really is a dagger when something like this happens to a guy everyone loves.”

Brandon Nimmo said Diaz’s influence also extended beyond his associates.

“He always brought this big, infectious smile and personality to the clubhouse,” said Nimmo. “He was never scared, never nervous. Those are the things that cannot be replaced.”

Of course, one can also argue that Diaz can’t be replaced as a closer either, at least the 2022 version of “Sugar,” as his teammates call him, who was virtually untouchable last season and hit a remarkable 17.1 batters per nine innings .

But this is exactly what distinguishes players from fans and the media. That part they’ve trained to believe they can overcome, that on a team as talented as the Mets, someone stepping up to do the job in the ninth inning. Or maybe more than just one guy.

In fact, Nimmo was quick to mention it David Robertson has experience as a closer and “he’s absolutely mean”.

Even at the age of 37, Robertson is now the likeliest candidate for most of the degree. Maybe Showalter will find matchup spots to use lefties Brooks Raley in the ninth inning. As much as matchups could dictate usage Adam Ottavino at the point where its sweeping slider could take out some hard right-handers.

But because runners easily stole bases from Ottavino last season and left-handers hit .304 against him, Robertson may be best placed to pick up the last three outs.

On Thursday, he said he would agree with what Showalter decides.

“I came here to field where they want me and have a chance to win a championship,” Robertson said. “I think those outs in the earlier innings are just as important. The ninth inning is magnified just a little more.”

Mets fans could argue there’s more to it, having been plagued by failures of big-time closers over the years, and that was in large part Diaz’s beauty. For the first time in ages, it seemed, the home fans didn’t fear the worst with a one-run lead in the ninth inning.

Instead, Diaz made those last three outs a celebration, beginning with the trumpet music. When he wiped out the LA Dodgers in the ninth inning on the night Timmy Trumpet performed Diaz’s housewarming song live, a potential curse if there was one, the Mets stalwarts were certain this was their year.

Turns out it wasn’t, of course, but Diaz was pretty much perfect until the end. And now he’s probably gone for the season because of that GM’s freak injury Billy Eppler said he couldn’t be sure how it happened at that celebration on Wednesday.

Eppler said such a patellar tendon tear usually happens “when force is applied to the knee,” suggesting that one of his teammates on the Puerto Rico team may have inadvertently caused the injury.

As hard as the news hit everyone in the organization, Eppler emphasized when he called Diaz on Wednesday evening after the injury: “He was in the best of spirits.”

Eppler giggled and said, “The guy can’t be bothered.”

It seemed of little consolation for a team whose owner has pushed the payroll to record levels in pursuit of a championship this season. But the more you spoke to the players after Eppler’s press conference, the more you could understand why hearing Diaz in a relatively good mood meant something to everyone.

“That’s why we love him,” said Drew Smith. “That’s him.”

They will miss that. The rest of it, they’re kind of convinced they’re going to find out.

Source : sports.yahoo.com

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