WASHINGTON – The Mets are bloodied but managed to avoid a worst-case scenario Tuesday.
Even so, the team lost its hottest hitter for at least 10 days with Robinson Cano’s placement on the injured list with a grade two left abductor strain.
Two other Mets players who received MRI exams, Jeff McNeil and Amed Rosario, managed to avoid the IL and are listed as “day to day” with it unclear how long each will be sidelined. McNeil was scratched from Monday’s lineup in Atlanta, and Rosario and Cano were removed during the game.
McNeil was diagnosed with a low grade right intercostal strain (back) and Rosario with left quad tightness. The ailments left manager Luis Rojas scrambling to fill out a lineup card as the Mets prepared to open a two-game series against the Nationals.
J.D. Davis, Andres Gimenez and Brian Dozier started at third base, shortstop and second base, respectively for the Mets, only underscoring the need for depth in this short season that followed an abbreviated summer camp.
“It’s tough to lose three guys like that who are regularly in your lineup and like they are swinging the bat,” Rojas said, hours before the results of the MRI exams were announced. “Cano is on fire. McNeil is swinging the bat real good and Rosie is swinging the good bat as well. As soon as they come out of the game [Monday] it’s tough. This game is full of adversity and we know that as a team.
“We need the ability to recover and keep moving. I know we have the depth to come in and have a lineup that can compete against any team, so we are feeling pretty comfortable about that.”
The 37-year-old Cano is slashing .412/.462/.559 with one homer in 11 games this season. He had recently been moved back into the middle of the lineup after hitting sixth and seventh for the first few games this season.
Cano’s absence is more pronounced after Yoenis Cespedes opted out of the season on Sunday.
“It’s really tough to lose those guys in the lineup,” Wilson Ramos said. “We need those bats in there, especially Robbie and McNeil, they are hitting the ball really well right now.”
Dozier, who played regularly for the Nationals last season – winning a World Series – was signed near the conclusion of summer camp to provide a veteran alternative for Cano and Jed Lowrie (the latter of whom never regained mobility in his left knee and was placed on the IL). The Mets also began the season with veteran infielder Eduardo Nunez as an option, but he landed on the IL with a left knee contusion after appearing in only two games for the team.
The Mets kept the rookie Gimenez on the roster to begin the season in part because of the insurance he could provide at shortstop if Rosario were sidelined. Gimenez began play with a respectable .294/.333/.412 slash line in 18 plate appearances and had impressed team officials with his base-running and defense.
Ramos said the shortened camp after a 3 ½ month shutdown for the coronavirus outbreak is probably a factor in the number of injuries throughout the game. The worst of the injuries sustained in Atlanta on Monday was the torn right Achilles sustained by Braves ace Mike Soroka.
“I understand a lot of guys were working out at home [during the layoff], but it’s not the same,” Ramos said. “It’s hard to come back to another spring training and get ready in three weeks. It’s not the same.”