Expecting the Mets’ 36-year-old second baseman to hustle for ground balls is, perhaps, asking for too much.
Robinson Cano exited Wednesday night’s Mets game against the Nationals after running to first base on a groundout in the third inning. Cano grimaced in pain moments before stepping on the bag. The Mets later announced Cano departed with left quad tightness.
Moments later, infielder Luis Guillorme was pulled from his game with Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday. Guillorme’s exit suggests the infielder could be on the Mets 25-man roster by Thursday.
Cano was recently chastised for lollygagging on a pair of plays during the Mets brutal series against the Marlins last weekend.
On one play, Cano had not realized there were two outs in the inning, before he grounded into a double play half-jogging to first base. On another, Cano did not move from the batter’s box during a fair ball that trickled a few feet in front of the plate. The Marlins easily tagged Cano out.
Cano was not immediately reprimanded by his manager, Mickey Callaway. The Mets skipper said in Miami both plays did not warrant the All-Star second baseman to either get pulled from the game or be benched the next day.
When the Mets returned to New York for a four-game series against the Nationals, Cano’s name was missing from the lineup for Monday’s series opener. Only then did Callaway explain Cano’s lack of hustle was unacceptable.
“Cano understands that it’s unacceptable to (not) run balls out,” Callaway said on Monday. “He understands he needs to do that at all times, as do all of our players. That’s just something we expect.”
The second baseman has spent 15 years in the big leagues sporting an obvious lack of hustle on ground balls. He still joined the Mets organization with an illustrious resume worthy of a Hall of Fame nod. Even now, Cano’s speed on grounders would not be a topic of conversation were it not for his batting line.
Cano left Wednesday batting .241 with three home runs, 13 RBI and 36 strikeouts over 45 games.
FOUR FOR DIAZ
Initially, Mickey Callaway and the Mets squirmed in their seats at the thought of using Edwin Diaz for more than three outs. Callaway had previously said he’s only comfortable using Diaz for four outs in the postseason.
On Wednesday, with the Mets bullpen in disarray and the team sitting three games under .500, the Mets skipper backtracked his original sentiment and said Diaz will soon be asked to throw more than just one inning.
“If we're not going to be where we want to be at this point, how can we expect to be there and hold off on (four outs) with Diaz,” Callaway said. “We have to win some games. We're going to approach this like it's the playoffs because we feel like we need to. You might see Diaz for four outs moving forward, for the unforeseeable future.”
The new decision on Diaz’s usage arrived after Callaway and Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland discussed the state of the Mets bullpen.
Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson sit idly on the 10-day injured list and Jeurys Familia is hard pressed to find results on the mound when he’s stretched out. Familia holds a 6.50 ERA over 18 games this season for the Mets.
If the Mets want to use one of baseball’s best closers in high-leverage situations, Callaway was forced to walk back the statement he made over a month ago.
"Diaz is going to get three outs on any given night, and hopefully it's for a save,” Callaway said on April 15. “We're not going to put him in a situation where he has to get an out, sit back down and get three more. He's going to get three outs.”
Diaz is 11-for-11 in save opportunities for the Mets. He holds a 1.93 ERA over 18.2 innings pitched.
"When you're trying to use your closer and save a game that day, getting an out in the eighth, maybe two (outs) sometimes, is very helpful than getting the three in the ninth,” Callaway said on Wednesday. “There's not a cap on it. But usually it's getting four.”
Callaway said, if the Mets pick their spots when using Diaz for more than three outs, the execution can be sustainable.
"Familia has struggled at times. Losing Lugo also effects that decision and where we are at and where we want to go is probably the biggest reason,” Callaway said. “We’re not where we want to be. We haven’t played the way we’re capable of playing. So we needed to adjust what we were thinking and what our plans were and be a better team.”