Mets closer Edwin Díaz is set for spring debut after freak WBC injury a year ago

FILE - New York Mets' Edwin Diaz looks on from the dugout during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 13, 2023, in New York. Díaz is set to appear in a game for the first time since since tearing a patella tendon during the 2023 World Baseball Classic. The two-time All-Star is expected to be the first reliever after starter Tyler Megill and will have a 20-pitch limit when the Mets face Miami in spring training in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Monday, March 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, file)

FILE – New York Mets’ Edwin Diaz looks on from the dugout during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 13, 2023, in New York. Díaz is set to appear in a game for the first time since since tearing a patella tendon during the 2023 World Baseball Classic. The two-time All-Star is expected to be the first reliever after starter Tyler Megill and will have a 20-pitch limit when the Mets face Miami in spring training in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Monday, March 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, file)

New York Mets closer Edwin Díaz is set to appear in a game for the first time since tearing a patellar tendon during the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

The two-time All-Star is expected to be the first reliever after starter Tylor Megill, and the right-hander will have a 20-pitch limit when the Mets face Miami in spring training in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Monday night.

“Excited for the boys, for the whole team, for himself,” manager Carlos Mendoza said Sunday. “The fact that he gets to pitch in a major league game for the first time after, you know, a long year of rehab and all that, I think is important for all of us.”

Díaz injured his right knee celebrating with teammates after closing out Puerto Rico’s 5-2 victory over the Dominican Republic last March.

The injury was the first of many for the Mets in 2023, leading the club to unload Cy Young Award winners Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer at the trade deadline before manager Buck Showalter was fired a year after New York made the playoffs as a wild card.

The 29-year-old Díaz was an All-Star for the Mets in 2022, recording 32 saves and having a 1.31 ERA. Of the 186 outs Díaz recorded that year, 118 were on strikeouts.

Díaz came to New York in a trade after his first All-Star season with Seattle in 2018.

BURNES’ OPENING DAY NOD

Corbin Burnes will be the opening day starter for the Baltimore Orioles, as expected, after the All-Star right-hander was acquired from Milwaukee in a trade last month.

Manager Brandon Hyde made the obvious official with the announcement Sunday.

“A real honor for me to let him know,” Hyde told reporters in Florida. “We’ve been talking about it for a while, and we’re real excited to watch him pitch on opening day.”

The Orioles made the move for an ace coming off an American League-best 101 wins last season before they were swept by the eventual World Series champion Texas Rangers in the AL Division Series.

It’s the third consecutive opening day start for the 29-year-old Burnes, who got the nod the past two seasons with the Brewers.

“It’s not something to be taken for granted,” Hyde said. “It’s a really cool moment for anybody to be able to have that honor. I know he’s very appreciative.”

DEALS DONE

The Seattle Mariners have signed reliever Ryne Stanek to a one-year contract, and the minor league deals are official for outfielder Eddie Rosario with Washington and first baseman Joey Votto with Toronto.

Stanek brings plenty of postseason experience to the Mariners, who are trying to get back to the playoffs after losing the AL Division Series to Houston in 2022, when the Astros beat Philadelphia in the World Series.

The 32-year-old right-hander has 23 postseason appearances, all but two of them with Houston the past three seasons. He was 3-1 with a 4.09 ERA in the regular season last year after going 2-1 with a 1.15 ERA in 2022. It was the lowest ERA in Houston history for a pitcher with at least 50 innings.

Stanek spent his first three seasons with Tampa Bay and was one of the first relievers used as an opener. His 56 starts of two or fewer innings are the most in major league history.

The 32-year-old Rosario is a left-handed hitter who has played nine seasons in the majors with the Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves.

Rosario was the NL Championship Series MVP during Atlanta’s run to the 2021 World Series title, but the club declined a $9 million option for this season.

The 40-year-old Votto is joining his hometown team in Canada after spending all 17 of his previous big league seasons in Cincinnati. The 2010 NL MVP became a free agent last fall at the end of a $251.5 million, 12-year contract with the Reds.

“I feel like a boy. I feel like a kid,” Votto told reporters in Florida. “I think this goes back to the 15-year-old version of me who just wanted to make it, who fell in love with the sport and with competition, with being my best self. All of the achievements along the way are nice, but this is still the core of me.”

SORE BACKS

Pitchers Jameson Taillon of the Chicago Cubs and Devin Williams of Milwaukee are dealing with back stiffness that is clouding the availability of both for opening day.

Taillon hasn’t pitched in a spring training game, and the 32-year-old right-hander didn’t see much improvement from a day earlier, Cubs manager Craig Counsell told reporters in Arizona.

Williams last appeared in a game Tuesday, and Brewers manager Pat Murphy told reporters the 29-year-old reliever had an MRI in Arizona and was headed to California for further evaluation.

The All-Star right-hander is coming off a career-high 36 saves. Williams has had an ERA under 2.00 each of the past two seasons.

“Felt like he could move forward with it and just treat it,” Murphy said when asked about the diagnosis, declining to offer a time frame. “Give him some time off.”

GUARDIANS’ WILLIAMS SCRATCHED

Cleveland Guardians right-hander Gavin Williams was scratched from his scheduled start against Cincinnati because of elbow discomfort stemming from an awkward throw of a weighted ball.

Manager Stephen Vogt said the club hopes Williams will be throwing again in a couple of days. The Guardians are counting on the 24-year-old in their rotation after he went 3-5 with a 3.29 ERA in 16 starts as a rookie last season.

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