Closer All-Star Edwin Díaz of the New York Mets was taken off the field in a wheelchair after injuring his right knee while celebrating Puerto Rico’s win over the Dominican Republic at the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night.
The right-hander was surrounded by his teammates after making a perfect ninth inning in a 5-2 win that sent Puerto Rico to the WBC quarterfinals. The group were jumping together at the gate when Díaz fell to the ground and immediately reached for his right leg.
Díaz – as well known for his trumpet-driven entrance music as his dominant pitching – was in tears and unweighted on his right leg as coach and coach helped him limp towards the dugout.
Díaz’s brother Alexis also cried as Edwin was placed in a chair and driven away. Mets teammate and Puerto Rican shortstop Francisco Lindor stood nearby with his hands on his head.
The Mets said in a statement about an hour after the game that Díaz had injured his right knee and would undergo imaging tests on Thursday.
Puerto Rico manager Yadier Molina said that Díaz also underwent tests at the stadium.
“I hugged our coaches in the dugout. When we looked up, Edwin was on the ground,” Molina said. “I did not know. I didn’t know how to act, I didn’t know how… what to say. I mean, I didn’t know. This surprised me.
“Like I said in the dugout, it sucks, I’m sorry but when you see a guy who works as hard as Edwin, that is, when you see him like this on the ground, it’s just sad.”
Díaz, 28, is a two-time All-Star and two-time Player of the Year. Last season, he made 32 saves for the Mets with a 1.31 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 62 innings.
He has become a sensation in New York with his pitching and danceable entrance music that leads off with a rousing trumpet riff. Díaz comes out of the bullpen at Citi Field to ‘Narco’ Blasterjaxx and Timmy Trumpet. He even had trumpets painted on his cleats for the WBC.
Díaz is regarded as a key contributor to the Mets’ World Series aspirations after owner Steve Cohen’s recent spending spree brought the club’s projected payroll to around $370 million. Díaz re-signed with the Mets in November for $102 million over five years.
The WBC tournament is played as MLB players prepare to start their season in late March. The WBC has rules – in addition to some requests from MLB teams – to protect players, especially pitchers, from injury.
Pitchers from all nations are limited to 65 pitches per starting round. If a player makes more than 50 pitches on a single out, they may not pitch for the next four days. If he rolls more than 30, he cannot roll the next day. Finally, if he throws on consecutive days, he must serve the next day.
But few could have imagined Wednesday’s scene.
Puerto Rican centre-back Kiké Hernandez said the locker room was quiet after Diaz’s injury.
“It’s a certain point that it’s bigger than the game,” said Hernandez. “It is very unfortunate that this happened. As much as we were excited about the game and all, he’s one of our brothers.”
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