PHOENIX — The Mets’ latest attempt to avoid placing a player on the 10-day disabled list could come to an end on Tuesday, when team officials are expected to make a decision about banged-up shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
Regardless of whether Cabrera lands on the disabled list, assistant general manager John Ricco ruled out the promotion of top prospect Amed Rosario, who is playing shortstop at Triple-A Las Vegas.
“Right now, we like what he’s doing down there,” Ricco said of Rosario, who is one of baseball’s top prospects. “But we think he needs some more time.”
First, the Mets must make a call on Cabrera, who has been playing through soreness in his left thumb since injuring it on a dive on May 6. Ricco said Cabrera has been diagnosed with a sprained joint in his thumb.
“The ligament’s not affected,” Ricco said, addressing reports of a ligament tear, which the Mets insist would be a different and more severe injury. “It’s a sprain of of the joint.”
However the injury is categorized, the symptoms seem to have worsened for Cabrera, who reaggravated it on Saturday night. While facing the Brewers, Cabrera swung at a pitch that jammed him, sending a rattling sensation into his thumb.
Swelling occurred almost immediately and has sidelined him since. On Sunday, Cabrera underwent treatment all during the Mets’ series finale against the Brewers. But he was not available to pinch hit.
Before Monday’s series opener against the Diamondbacks, manager Terry Collins offered a similar assessment.
“I doubt that he’s usable tonight,” Collins said.
The Mets once again played shorthanded, sticking with a pattern of allowing banged-up players to work around issues, even though previous examples have ended with stints on the disabled list.
Leftfielder Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring) and catcher Travis d’Arnaud (bone bruise in the right wrist) both attempted to play through their respective injuries before finally landing on the disabled list.
Ricco said decisions are made on a case-by-case basis with multiple factors to be considered. He called the process “more of an art than a science.”
“We’re reluctant to put him on so far because he’s such a big part of the team,” Ricco said of Cabrera. “But we’ll probably make a decision [today].”
Cabrera, 31, is hitting .257/.339/.381 in 33 games this season. In addition to his thumb injury, he has played through various ailments in his legs. The shortstop did the same for much of last season, when he established himself as one of the leaders in the clubhouse.
Should Cabrera get sent to the disabled list, the Mets could summon Gavin Cecchini, who had been brought to New York shortly after Cabrera initially injured his thumb. But Cecchini was not activated when the Mets decided to keep Cabrera off the DL.
The Mets also could add an extra arm to the bullpen, especially with the team’s starting pitchers averaging fewer than five innings per start in their last 14 games. An extra bullpen arm has been part of the Mets’ alignment at various points this season.
Either way, Rosario won’t be coming up to fill a short-term need. While Ricco tied the decision to performance, it’s common for teams to delay promoting top prospects until after sometime in June, which prevents them from gaining an extra year of arbitration by becoming a so-called Super 2.
“One of the reasons you put a guy in Triple-A is because you face a different level of competition,” Ricco said of Rosario, who is hitting .359/.401/.493 for Las Vegas. “He’s starting to see more offspeed pitches. He can hit the fastball but they’re starting to throw him offspeed pitches in fastball counts and seeing how he adjusts to that.”