Brandon Nimmo injury update: CF options for Mets after knee, ankle sprain diagnosis

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Brandon Nimmo injury Mets
Brandon Nimmo (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Within the Mets’ dubious section of Murphy’s Law has emerged another chapter, most recently when Brandon Nimmo suffered a low-grade sprain to his right knee and ankle during Friday’s exhibition matchup with the Miami Marlins.

General manager Billy Eppler labeled the outcome as “good news,” after Nimmo underwent imaging on Saturday to rule out a long-term absence. However, he’ll still be on a week-to-week basis and could miss the early portions of the 2023 season, which is less than two weeks away.

“Everything structurally looks sound,” Eppler said. “We’ve got some time before Opening Day so we’ll just continue to watch him and get an update probably about a week from now and then we’ll be able to get a little bit better timetable.”

The Mets had initially labeled Nimmo’s injury as ankle soreness on Friday — the injury occurring one day after they learned that star closer Edwin Diaz would likely miss the entire 2023 season after suffering a torn patellar tendon in his knee during the World Baseball Classic. He underwent surgery on Thursday where an eight-month timetable is usually a conservative estimate. Still, Diaz and the Mets are hoping he could make it back for the very end of the season.

Edwin Diaz injury Mets
Puerto Rico pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) is helped by team pitching coach Ricky Bones and medical staff after a World Baseball Classic game against the Dominican Republic, Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Miami. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

In comparison, Nimmo’s result is overwhelming positive even if the Mets could be without their starting center fielder for Opening Day. Turning 30 on March 27, the Wyoming native used a rare full season to secure an eight-year, $162 million deal from the Mets this winter by slashing .274/.367/.433 (.800 OPS) with 16 home runs, 64 RBI, and a league-leading seven triples in 151 games.

He had only played in 100 or more games in a season once over his first six years in the majors (140 in 2018).

The issue the Mets are now facing is that they don’t have a true center fielder as a backup to Nimmo. Mark Canha slid from left field to center last season when needed and is the likely choice to do so again. Tommy Pham — another natural corner outfielder — struggled in center when given the chance this spring and right fielder Starling Marte is coming off an offseason in which he had double groin surgery. So it’s logical to think the Mets would want to limit the ground he has to cover.

Second baseman Jeff McNeil can always provide another option in left field — which he has shown to cover admirably — if the Mets aren’t keen on starting Pham every day during Nimmo’s absence. Luis Guillorme could man second base during those days.

Mark Canha Mets
Mark Canha (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

For more on the Mets and Brandon Nimmo, visit AMNY.com