PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — New York Mets closer Edwin Díaz has a torn patellar tendon and is expected to miss the entire season after hurting his right knee while celebrating a victory in the World Baseball Classic.
Mets general manager Billy Eppler said Díaz would undergo surgery Thursday. Without going into specifics, Eppler said a general timeline for recovery from this type of injury is about eight months.
“There are instances where athletes have come back earlier, more around the six-month mark,” Eppler told reporters. “But those are a little bit more of the exception than the rule.”
Díaz, who turns 29 next week, retired the side in order in the ninth inning of a 5-2 victory over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night that sent Puerto Rico to the World Baseball Classic quarterfinals. As Díaz and his teammates jumped together in the infield, the right-hander collapsed and reached for his right leg. He was taken off the field in a wheelchair.
“Edwin Díaz is a great human being and a fierce competitor,” Mets owner Steve Cohen tweeted. “All of us at the Mets are shaken but determined to sustain our quest for a great season. We wish Edwin a speedy recovery.”
Eppler said he spoke to Díaz several times and noted the right-hander was in “great spirits.”
“He’s a resilient human being,” Eppler said. “That’s why he the closer he is. The dude doesn’t get rattled.”
The Mets signed Díaz to a five-year, $102 million contract — the largest ever for a closer — after he produced a spectacular 2022 season. All player contracts are covered by insurance through the WBC that spans the length of time the player is out with an injury suffered during the tournament.
Díaz went 3-1 with a 1.31 ERA and 32 saves in 35 opportunities while striking out 118 batters in 62 innings last season. He made his second All-Star appearance and finished ninth in the Cy Young Award voting.
Manager Buck Showalter has some relievers on the roster with closer experience as the team tries to replace Díaz.
David Robertson has 157 career saves, including 20 last season when he pitched for the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies. Adam Ottavino has 33 career saves. Brooks Raley had six saves for the Tampa Bay Rays last season.
“My plan coming here was to throw whenever Buck called on me and asked me to go pitch,” Robertson told reporters. “It doesn’t matter to me when I pitch in a game, whether it’s the fifth through the ninth. If I’m asked to cover the ninth, I’ll do my best.”
Eppler didn’t have details on exactly what caused the injury during the WBC postgame celebration but said torn patellar tendons happen more often in other sports.
“It’s an injury that’s actually really common in the NBA and NFL,” Eppler said. “When you get excessive load put on your knee, it can happen.”
Puerto Rico pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) is helped by team pitching coach Ricky Bones and medical staff after a World Baseball Classic game against the Dominican Republic, Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Miami. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)