PHOENIX — New York Mets infielders Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil were sitting on the bench Wednesday night at Chase Field, watching Team USA battle for a quarterfinal WBC berth, when coach Michael Young walked over to see them.
“I got some really bad news,’’ Young said.
And the words slowly trickled out of his mouth.
Their beloved Mets’ teammate, All-Star closer, Edwin Diaz, tore the patellar tendon in his right kneee in the celebration of Puerto Rico’s victory over the Dominican Republic and will miss the entirety of the 2023 season.
“Just really heartbreaking,’’ Alonso said. “We know how hard he’s worked, and how hard he’s performed on the team. I just feel horrible for him. He’s worked really hard to get where he’s at.
“I mean, he was just an absolute force last year. Such a great teammate. I feel frustrated for him. We’re going to miss him for sure.’’
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Diaz, who turns 29 on March 22, is regarded as baseball’s best closer. He saved 32 games last season, striking out 118 batters in just 62 innings, yielding a 1.31 ERA. The Mets signed him to a five-year, $102 million contract, the most paid to a reliever, before he hit free agency.
“It’s a fluke thing, a sad scene.’’ Mets reliever Adam Ottavino said. “It could have happened in any type of situation, regardless. I don’t think it’s the tournament’s fault.
“It’s awful. I know what it meant to him to be in that 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 into the game in the ninth inning with horns blaring and “Narco” playing over the loudspeakers. He struck out the side, preserving Puerto Rico’s 5-2 victory, and igniting a wild celebration.
Seconds later, the celebration stopped, with Diaz crumbled on the ground, withering in pain.
There was no music in the Puerto Rico clubhouse, only hushed tones.
“Quiet,” Puerto Rico outfielder Enrique Hernandez said, describing the scene. “As excited as we were about the game and all that, that’s one of our brothers. Some of us grew up together and all that. It’s real easy to set aside the game and worry about us as humans. ’’
Diaz’s injury even dampened Team…
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