‘Same time, same place’ for Darvish and Otani’s elbow injuries

There’s a pitcher who suffered a ridiculous injury at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) last March that he’ll never laugh about. That’s because he wasn’t injured while pitching.

It was New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz. Representing Puerto Rico in the WBC, Diaz came in to close out the game on March 16 against the Dominican Republic, one of the top teams in Group D, to preserve a 5-2 win. After taking the mound in the bottom of the ninth and retiring Ketel Marte, Jean Segura, and Teoscar Hernandez in order, Diaz injured his right knee while jumping up and down with his teammates on the field.

In his excitement, he overdid it, tearing his patellar tendon.

He underwent surgery the next day, and his wife posted a photo of Diaz posing in a hospital bed on social media to announce the procedure.

The Mets had just signed Diaz to a five-year, $120 million free-agent contract the day before. They couldn’t blame him because he was playing baseball, not everyday life. At the time, it was estimated that he would need six to eight months to rehabilitate, effectively ending his season.

But then Diaz practiced pitching outdoors for the first time since his knee surgery.

“My goal was to be ready to go in six months, and I’m working hard toward that goal,” Diaz told The Associated Press on Monday. He hopes to return in September. The day before, he threw a bullpen session at Citi Field, home of the Mets, with the catcher sitting. He measured his velocity and it was in the low-to-mid 90s.

“That’s fine,” Diaz said. The important thing is how much the knee has recovered and how healthy it is. I feel good and healthy right now. I’m starting to throw the ball again.” He’s confident that he’ll be back this season. However, the team doesn’t seem to be in a position to push him too hard. The Mets are in last place in the NL East with a 60-72 record as of Sept. 29, effectively eliminating them from the postseason.

Manager Buck Showalter said of Diaz’s pitching resumption, “We’re waiting for a medical clearance. That’s when we’ll be able to make a decision, which is not right now, but the fact that he’s considering coming back is a positive sign.”

Diaz posted 32 saves and a 1.31 ERA last year. He has been a top-notch closer since his debut in 2016, including 57 saves in 2018 with the Seattle Mariners. He is one of the best closers in the game.

A hard fastball and a high-speed slider are his trademarks, both of which emanate from his 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame. In 2022, his fastball topped out at 102.8 mph and averaged 99.1 mph, and his slider was also fast, topping out at 94.4 mph and averaging 90.8 mph. His strikeout rate is among the best in history. In 62 innings last year, he struck out 118 batters for a 17.129 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) average. Diaz has a career K/9 of 14.807. When Texas Rangers Aroldis Chapman was in his prime, earning 36 saves for the Cincinnati Reds in 2014, he struck out 106 batters in 54 innings, or a 17.667 K/9.

There’s no telling if he’ll be as scary this year or next when he returns, but the WBC could be a big turning point in his career.

As far as the WBC is concerned, Diaz may be lucky to have gotten “the hawk first.

The San Diego Padres have placed Darvish Yu on the disabled list (IL) with an elbow injury. This is the first time Darvish has been on the IL since early October last year. He has been on the IL a total of 12 times since his major league debut in 2012. In 2014, he took a year off after receiving a Tommy John surgery.

Still, he’s been relatively healthy this season, staying in the rotation. It’s a last-minute brake, and he’s having a rough first season after signing a six-year, $108 million extension in February. He is guaranteed to play until age 42.

Not long ago, another Japanese pitcher, Shohei Ohtani, was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right elbow. Ohtani will no longer take the mound this year and will be limited to batting. The decision to undergo surgery has not yet been made, but it will be the first time in five years that he has had the same procedure since October 2018.

Darvish and Ohtani were coincidentally the mainstays of Japan’s WBC victory in March. Ohtani pitched 9⅔ innings in three games and Darvish pitched six innings in three games, most notably in the ninth inning of the final against the United States, where he struck out Mike Trout with a fastball that reached 101.9 mph to earn the save.안전놀이터

While it’s unlikely that Darvish and Ohtani injured their elbows around the same time because of the WBC, it’s very possible that it was a season-ending strain. There are plenty of examples of pre-season WBCs ruining seasons.

Ohtani is playing at full strength as a hitter right now. He’ll be a free agent after the season, and there are concerns that his elbow condition could worsen.

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