Mets’ Edwin Díaz won’t return from knee injury this season

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Mets star closer Edwin Díaz — out since suffering a major knee injury during the World Baseball Classic in March — will not return to pitch this season.

Díaz, who is working his way back from a torn right patellar tendon suffered during an on-field celebration, has progressed well in his rehab, but he always faced long odds of pitching in a game at some point in 2023. New York pitching coach Jeremy Hefner first told the news Monday. With about two weeks left in the Mets’ disappointing season, club officials decided it made little sense to risk anything with Díaz, given their place in the standings as time winds down.

Díaz should be ready for a normal offseason heading into 2024. He will continue to throw bullpen sessions until the end of September. He was expected to fly to Florida with the team this week — the Mets play the Miami Marlins — and throw his next bullpen session in Port St. Lucie, home of the club’s spring training facility, featuring a new pitching lab. He will likely continue to throw at Port St. Lucie, where he could face live batters as part of a next step, a club official said.

Díaz only started throwing bullpen sessions recently, starting on Aug. 28. By Sept. 6, Díaz started throwing his slider again. Early in his rehab, Díaz sat at 93-94 mph, while being cognizant of not overdoing things. Still, Mets manager Buck Showalter on Saturday hinted that significant benchmarks remained for Díaz. In addition to Díaz being ready to pitch, he also had to be ready to field.

“The big thing is going to be when he starts moving off the mound and field balls and covering first,” Showalter said. “I don’t think he’s gotten there.”

A return in 2023 for Díaz would’ve presented a feel-good moment, checked off a crucial step for him and supplied him with some additional confidence. But the Mets always said that the medical reports and benchmarks would guide their decision-making. From their view, it just wasn’t worth it.

When the injury occurred, Díaz immediately began circling September 2023 as the target for a return. It was ambitious, but not out of the realm of possibility given how quickly the Mets acted at the time of the injury and its typical timeline. No one close to him doubted that he could — or can — do it. After his first bullpen session in late August, he continued to say in his first public comments since mid-April: “The goal is I want to pitch this year. But I got other check marks to check off.”

As Díaz has made progress, the discussion about whether he could return developed into whether he should return. Díaz’s injury was a major blow to the Mets’ season. For the early part of the season, New York weathered his absence, but the void created a cascading effect in the bullpen that eventually caught up to the club. Along the way, other reasons — more injuries, regression and just overall poor play — contributed to continued losing. After a transformative trade deadline, the Mets don’t resemble the team Díaz left in spring training; they’re playing games with no meaning for them in the standings.

After a brilliant 2022 season, Díaz became the first piece of the franchise’s offseason spending spree, returning to the club on a five-year, $102 million contract, the richest ever handed to a reliever.

(Photo: Brad Penner / USA Today)

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