Juan Lagares, Curtis Granderson hurt as once-crowded outfield is caught short
PHOENIX - In the afternoon, Mets manager Terry Collins likened his situation to a "juggling game." With Chris Young expected to come off the disabled list Friday, Collins figured he soon might face the challenge of having to find playing time for four players in the outfield.
But by the evening, Collins was running out of bodies.
Within the space of two innings in Monday night's 7-3 win over the Diamondbacks, outfielders Curtis Granderson and Juan Lagares went down with injuries.
The Mets appear to have dodged a bullet with Granderson, who emerged with soreness up and down his left side after colliding with the rightfield fence in the first inning and leaving the game in the sixth. He's listed as day-to-day. But the situation with Lagares, who pulled his right hamstring while trying to beat out a grounder in the seventh, was not as encouraging.
"I just want to wait until tomorrow to see what happens," said Lagares, arguably the Mets' most valuable player thus far. "I hope everything's OK."
By the seventh-inning stretch, the Mets were so short on outfielders that Lucas Duda was pressed into service in leftfield, where he hadn't seen any action since last season. The Mets finished the game with an alignment of Duda in left, Eric Young Jr. in center and Andrew Brown in right.
Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson said the Mets will wait until Tuesday to make any decisions about the roster. However, they're likely to send for an extra outfielder in case Lagares lands on the disabled list.
"You look at the big picture, it's tough for us," Collins said. "It's really tough. He's played absolutely great. He's really swung the bat really, really well. He's earned that right to be out there every day. To have this happen right now is a tough break for him, it's a tough break for us."
Aside from playing Gold Glove-caliber defense in centerfield, Lagares emerged as the Mets' hottest hitter through the first 12 games.
Entering Monday night, he led them in average (.319), hits (15), runs (eight), RBIs (seven) and total bases (22). He ranked second in on-base percentage (.353) and slugging (.468). And in his first at-bat, Lagares doubled, extending his hitting streak to nine games.
For all of Lagares' production, entering the game, he appeared to be at risk of losing playing time. Collins had committed to extended playing time for Granderson and Chris Young but did not offer similar assurances to Lagares. He also has been out front about the way he values Eric Young Jr. in the leadoff spot.
Hours later, Collins' quandary had become a moot point.
Injuries marred Granderson's 2013 campaign with the Yankees. And for a brief moment, he appeared to face a similar predicament with the Mets, whom he joined after signing a four-year, $60-million deal.
"I didn't want to have any injury or setback like I'd had the previous year," said Granderson, who is hitting .170. "Obviously, it's part of the game, but I was hoping it wasn't anything as serious as that."
Granderson hurt himself running down Miguel Montero's run-scoring double in the first. His forearm hit a padded fence support, sending his elbow into his rib cage. Because he was running full stride, Granderson's knee also slammed into the support.
He suffered contusions to his left rib cage, forearm and knee, but X-rays came back negative. He remained in the game until stiffness forced him out, with Brown replacing him in the sixth.
"The worst part I could have hit, I ended up hitting," said Granderson, who winced as he put on his socks and shoes after the game.
For now, Collins said he'd be comfortable using Duda in the outfield, even though an injury in spring training kept him from taking fly balls.
"Anywhere they need me to play, I'll play," Duda said. "But obviously you want to see Curtis out there and you want to see Juan out there . . . Hopefully, they're not too severe, because we need those two guys."