New York Mets’ outfielder Juan Lagares has been diagnosed with a partially torn ligament in his left thumb, as first reported by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Lagares returned to Pittsburgh after being examined in New York and is currently not scheduled for a stint on the disabled list.
While surgery on the injured thumb is likely, the Mets will take a few days and see if Lagares can play through the injury as noted by Newsday’s Marc Carig. While Lagares was en route to the Steel City for the Mets’ series-opener against the Pirates, a rainout postponed Monday’s game and will be made up today as part of a traditional doubleheader.
Lagares, 27, left Saturday’s 6-4 win over the Miami Marlins after hurting his thumb on a run-saving diving catch in the 6th inning.
After the game, Lagares told reporters, including MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, that he did not want to risk hurting his thumb further by staying in the game.
“I just felt a little weird,” Lagares said about the feeling in his thumb following the catch. Before the Mets decided to send Lagares out for an MRI, he said he’s “not really” worried about the thumb.
“I didn’t want to take the chance. I just wanted to make sure it’s OK. We’ll see [Sunday] how it feels.”
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) June 6, 2016
Mets’ assistant general manager John Ricco reiterated the team’s belief that Lagares can play with the injury. But until the swelling in the thumb subsides, the team will not know for sure.
“There’s a good chance he’ll be able to play with it,” Ricco said to Newsday. “But we won’t know until some of the swelling gets out of there and he gets a chance to see how he feels.”
Rubin noted that the Mets were prepared to utilize Lagares in Sunday’s season finale.
In 44 games this season, Lagares is batting 0.276/0.315/0.402 with two home runs and six runs batted in (RBIs). With a surplus of outfielders on the roster, Lagares — who was originally set to platoon in center field with offseason acquisition Alejandro De Aza — has only tallied 87 at-bats.
Yoenis Cespedes, who missed Sunday’s game with a recurring hip issue, is having an MVP-caliber season as the Mets’ full-time center fielder. That’s resulted in the former National League Gold Glove award winner Lagares seeing a decrease in his playing time.
Losing Lagares for an extended stretch would be the latest blow to a Mets team decimated by injury. David Wright (neck), Lucas Duda (back), and Travis d’Arnaud (shoulder) are all currently on the DL. While d’Arnaud started a rehab assignment last week, he remains a few weeks away from returning.
However, since Lagares is a reserve, the Mets are better equipped to deal with losing him to injury. With De Aza on the roster, and the Mets’ three starters (Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, and Michael Conforto), the team has options. Still, Lagares’ elite-level defense in center field would be hard to replace with the team’s in-house options.
— ESPN (@espn) May 19, 2016
Super utility man Ty Kelly, who has just two hits in 18 at-bats since being called up, also has experience at the position. Also, 23-year-old top prospect Brandon Nimmo — who MLB.com rated as the team’s second-best prospect behind Steven Matz — is an option should Lagares need a DL stint. In 48 games at Triple-A Las Vegas, Nimmo has lit up pitchers to a 0.310/0.390/0.462 clip with two HR and 24 RBIs.
[Featured Photo by Elsa/Getty Images]