NEW YORK — Puerto Rican Edwin Diaz continues to make progress toward a potential return late in the season, even as his rehabilitation from a torn patellar tendon in his right knee remains some mystery.
The Mets were the closest to getting rid of the bottom of the mound and would continue to do so over the next seven to 10 days.
At that time, Diaz will undergo another round of tests, including measurements of strength and range of motion. If all goes well, Diaz should start off the mound, but General Manager Billy Eppler won’t commit to that course of action.
“We’re going to really focus on the operation,” said Eppler. “What are we doing today and was it successful today? Are we going to repeat today? How many days do we repeat before moving on to the next stage?
“When we have the opportunity to get some objective data, as well as personal data – whatever the player tells us – then we can see what’s next.”
Diaz, for his part, has not spoken to New York reporters since mid-April. He’s been willing to talk about his progress, according to several people familiar with the situation, but the Mets have declined multiple requests to meet with him.
Diaz’s recovery began immediately after he underwent surgery to repair the injury after Puerto Rico beat the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic in March. He’s been casting from flat ground since early summer, and by mid-July, he’s been up to 150 feet.
Diaz recently added mainstay work to his routine.
Diaz can get on the mound’s rubber in about a week, and he can stay put, or he can take the intermediate step of throwing from the middle of the mound’s ramp. This decision will depend on the results of your tests.
Either way, Diaz still has plenty of steps ahead of his potential return: bull games sessions, bull games where the batting stands at the plate, live batting practice, simulated games, and rehab games. With seven weeks left in the season — the equivalent of a full spring training — it’s unclear if he’ll have enough time to overcome all those hurdles.
What team officials have made clear is that if Diaz is healthy enough to return, the Mets will allow him to pitch despite being the last in the NL East.
Principal Buck Showalter spoke of the importance – for both Diaz and the organization – of avoiding a situation where he goes nearly a year without making a competitive bid.
The Mets wouldn’t put Diaz’s health at risk to get him done, but if he returns closer to full strength before the end of September, club officials see no reason to remove him.
“I have a feeling of excitement,” Eppler said of Diaz’s mentality. “This is good”.
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