‘Everything is normal, finally’: Mets’ Edwin Diaz returns to mound after year-long layoff

Edwin Diaz Mets
Edwin Diaz (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

QUEENS, N.Y. — Edwin Diaz did not expect to be as nervous as he was on Saturday afternoon. With his Mets trailing 7-5 heading into the top of the ninth inning, the bullpen doors opened to the sound of trumpets for the star closer for the first time since 2022.

“It felt great, I was really happy,” Diaz said. “A little anxious, I can’t lie to you guys.”

His one-inning outing against the Milwaukee Brewers was his first appearance with the Mets in 17 months after he tore the patellar tendon in his right knee last March with the Puerto Rican national team at the World Baseball Classic. 

“When I started warming up I feel like I started getting nervous,” Diaz said. “It’s been a long time out, one year since I’ve been in front of our crowd, but I controlled my emotions pretty good.”

That home crowd at Citi Field was plenty happy to see him, giving him a standing ovation as he made the trot from the bullpen to the mound.

“It means a lot,” he said. “They love our team, they love me, and I was really happy when I heard everyone’s cheers… that gave me chills.

Edwin Diaz Mets
Edwin Diaz (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

It was not as dominant of an outing as became customary during his record-breaking 2022 season in which he won Reliever of the Year by striking out 118 of 235 batters faced, but it was clean. After getting Met-killer Rhys Hoskins to pop up to third base and Oliver Dunn to line out to center, he allowed a single to Brice Turang, who proceeded to steal second and third base.

He bore down, though, and got out of the jam by striking out highly-touted Brewers prospect Jackson Chourio with a slider to keep it a 7-5 game. Pete Alonso would hit a solo home run in the ninth to cut the Mets’ deficit to one, but they could not complete the comeback.

“I made my pitches and got three outs,” Diaz said. “I was pumped up [to strike out Chourio]. I’m a strikeout guy so I wanted to make sure I strike out one in my first outing so when I got it, I was pumped.”

“He came in, he attacked hitters,” Mets manager Carlos Mendoza added. “The way he uses his pitches, it was good to get him in the game. Obviously, I’m hoping to see him when we have the lead.”

It had been decided before Saturday’s game that Diaz was going to pitch regardless of the score, which was 7-2 Milwaukee when he started warming up. Brett Baty’s pinch-hit three-run home run made it a two-run game for him to work with. 

“My last time [pitching] was last Sunday in spring training,” Diaz said. “That was a big stretch, six days, so I asked them if I could pitch today to get some work and be ready when they need me in a save situation.”

That situation will come sooner rather than later. For now, one big hurdle of getting back on the mound has officially been cleared.

“Everything is normal, finally,” Diaz said. “I can’t wait to get to helping the team to see if we can win some games.”

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