Edwin Diaz of the Mets reacts after the final out of...

Edwin Diaz of the Mets reacts after the final out of the ninth inning against the Brewers at Citi Field on Saturday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Five hundred and thirty-seven days later, Edwin Diaz returned to the major leagues Saturday afternoon.

He tossed a scoreless ninth inning in the Mets’ 7-6 loss to the Brewers, a long-awaited climax to the comeback after a severe knee injury kept him out all of last season.

When the bullpen door swung open and his trumpets-infused entrance music played, the Citi Field crowd of an announced 30,296 was about as excited as it got all day.

“I was really happy and a little bit anxious — I can’t lie,” Diaz said. “It means a lot. They love our team. They love me.”

Diaz began warming up in the bottom of the eighth, when the Mets trailed by five. The Mets planned to use him no matter the game situation because he requested it. His final spring-training appearance was last Sunday, and he didn’t want to go too long between outings.

“It was a big stretch, six days,” he said. “So I asked them if I can pitch today and get some work and be ready when they need me in save situations.”

His first pitch: a 95-mph fastball to Rhys Hoskins for a called strike. Hoskins popped out, and Joey Ortiz lined out. Brice Turang singled, then stole second and third, putting extra pressure on Diaz’s duel with 20-year-old Jackson Chourio.

 

Chourio whiffed at a slider on the outer third of the plate for strike three and the third out, much to Diaz’s delight.

“I got the first three hitters to two strikes and didn’t get the strikeout,” he said. “I’m a strikeout guy, so I wanted to make sure I strike out one my first outing. I got the strikeout and I was pumped.”

Manager Carlos Mendoza said: “Obviously, you’re hoping to see [Diaz] when you got the lead . . . But Diaz, I like what I saw out of him.”

Diaz tore the patellar tendon in his right knee while representing Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic in March 2023. He had surgery the next day.

Before this, he hadn’t gotten into a major-league game since Oct. 9, 2022, when the Mets hosted the Padres in the playoffs.

“Everything is normal,” he said. “Finally, I came back and pitched. The training staff is really happy. I can’t wait to keep helping the team to see if we can win some game.”

Marte’s half-day

Starling Marte served as the DH, part of the Mets’ plan to ease the rightfielder into the season. He went 1-for-3 with two walks.

They want to give Marte several DH days, as well as an off day or two, during this season-opening stretch of 19 games in 20 days, Mendoza said.

Until J.D. Martinez is ready for major-league games in a week or two, the Mets intend to spread around the DH at-bats instead of rolling with a particular player.

“It’ll be important for him in the long run, the long game,” Mendoza said of Marte, who is 35 and was plagued by a groin injury last year. “We’re going to try to take advantage as much as possible now.”

Clarity on a call

Mendoza said that umpire Lance Barrett admitted to blowing a call Friday: When DJ Stewart was picked off first base, he should have been safe because Hoskins obstructed Stewart’s path to the bag.

MLB instructed umpires to more strictly enforce base obstruction rules this season, and during spring training that caused some confusion and annoyance among Mets personnel. They felt wronged — and felt as if they didn’t know the rule — when Stewart was called out on Opening Day.

“I don’t think anybody has a clear understanding,” Mendoza said before Barrett provided clarity.

Francisco Lindor said: “You can write that: Francisco doesn’t know what the rule is.”

Extra bases

Zack Short started at third base against lefthander DL Hall, but Mendoza emphasized that Brett Baty will play plenty against southpaws. “At the end of the day, Baty will get his at-bats against lefties, he’ll get starts,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting everybody in the game, especially early in the season, giving everyone an opportunity.” . . . Luis Severino became the 25th pitcher to start a game for the Mets and Yankees, first since Bartolo Colon (2014) . . . Pete Alonso’s home run was the 193rd of his career, breaking a tie with Howard Johnson for fourth on the Mets’ all-time list.

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