On Wednesday, it looked like a painfully stubbed toe. By Friday, Juan Lagares was slated for surgery, and is now likely out for the season, the Mets announced.
In what was a microcosm of the Mets’ misadventures of late, the team said before Friday night’s game that Lagares, who ran into the outfield wall Wednesday to make a catch, actually suffered a complete tear of the plantar plate in his left foot, the thick ligament that supports his big toe and became the 10th player to land on the disabled list. An MRI proved that the hyperextended toe was injured more than the Mets initially may have thought, and surgery is slated for next week. He will “likely miss the remainder of the 2018 season,” the team said.
“It’s really tough,” Mickey Callaway said. “I felt really bad for him. I know he was on a roll and playing great and now this happens . . . It’s going to hurt us a little bit. We counted on Juan off the bench a couple times. He was probably in a situation where he was going to get to start playing a lot more than he had, with some guys out and it’s going to hurt us a little bit.”
Jerry Blevins was activated off the paternity list to take Lagares’ spot on the 25-man roster.
With Yoenis Cespedes on the disabled list, the Mets have only three natural outfielders on the roster: Michael Conforto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Nimmo. Phil Evans, a utility infielder, has played one game in the outfield in his short MLB career. Wilmer Flores, Callaway said, will likely be a viable option. Jose Reyes, who took fly balls in spring training and appeared slated for a conversion to emergency outfielder, seemed a less likely option, Callaway said. They have no other outfielders on the 40-man roster, either.
“I know Flo has been out there a little bit in spring training and he’s pretty solid out there,” Callaway said of Flores. “Right at this moment, I would probably feel more comfortable with Flo out there and Reyes kind of filling in at third for him in a pinch. But I think we’re always going to keep every avenue open and explore everything we can.”
Lagares, who is probably the best defensive outfielder on the team, has had an injury-plagued career thus far, but was certainly hoping to turn it around this season, tweaking his swing and hoping to become a greater offensive force. He carried a slash line of .339/.375/.390 in 64 plate appearances, many off the bench.
Conforto, Callaway said, will now likely have to play centerfield every day. And of course, the Mets can’t stand to lose any more healthy bodies.
“I think that we need some depth obviously,” Callaway said. “I’m comfortable with the three that are going to be playing. I think that’s the main concern at this point. If we have another injury, we’re going to need somebody to step up big time . . . There’s multiple options down in the minor leagues [but] that’s more of a big discussion with the Triple-A manager and his coaches on who he thinks could best come here and help us out.”
Juan Lagares has been a frequent visitor to the DL in his six seasons with the Mets. His major injuries:
Torn ligament in left big toe
Fractured left thumb
Torn ligament in left thumb
Right hamstring strain
Right intercostal strain
Hyperextended right elbow