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Mets' Edwin Diaz says he needs more work

Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz walks to the

Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz walks to the dugout after being taken out of the game during the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox in an MLB baseball game at Citi Field on Thursday, July 30, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Edwin Diaz has an idea about how to fix the Mets’ Edwin Diaz problem: more Edwin Diaz.

In discussing his disaster of an appearance Thursday — 35 pitches, one out, getting pulled with the bases loaded — Diaz on Friday blamed the lack of control on having gone five days since he last pitched. If he pitches more frequently, he said, he will be better.

Diaz explained that to manager Luis Rojas and the Mets’ pitching coaches, and he said they were receptive to that idea. He also told them that when he arrived in New York for the start of camp a month ago, he said.

Rojas called it a “good” and “healthy” conversation.

“It was a productive conversation that we had,” Diaz said through an interpreter. “They spoke their piece and they gave me some different tips that I can take. But I also gave them what I thought would benefit me. I think five days is a lot of days of rest for me.

“It was a little bit surprising, just how the outing went. It had been five days since I last threw, so I felt like I didn’t have my mechanics in order. I felt like my body just wasn’t in sync and I was trying to overpower the pitches too much at this point. Five days without pitching isn’t the same when you’re more accustomed to pitching (more often).”

Diaz’s struggles in 2019, including a 5.59 ERA, were well documented. And for as much as the Mets talked up the work he put in during the offseason, a new season does not seem to have brought a new Diaz.

He pitched a perfect ninth inning for a save on Opening Day, but a day later, he blew the save. Then came that five-day layoff and his problems against the Red Sox on Thursday, when Rojas was concerned about Diaz’s inability to control his emotions as well as his pitches.

Rojas said it was a “different Diaz” from the one he had seen in camp and his first two games.

“A few times after a pitch that he didn’t execute or a pitch he probably didn't get maybe a call on, whatever the case was, he was getting emotional,” Rojas said. “We talked about that. He was fully aware of it. The conversation was really healthy with coaches and player, just to get back on track and focus on what we need to work on to make sure we translate it to the game when he gets a chance to pitch again.”

The question of when — and in what situation — Diaz pitches again is an unanswered one. Rojas and Diaz said they did not discuss Diaz’s role.

Asked specifically if he might use Diaz in a lower-leverage situation to rebuild confidence, or if he was comfortable using him in a save situation, Rojas didn’t offer a direct answer.

“Diaz is part of the depth that we have for the pitchers that have experience closing games,” Rojas said. “For us, we always talk about how much of a luxury that is. Sugar is part of that core.”

Diaz, for his part, said: “I’m open to pitching whenever, so that doesn’t matter to me. It’s just one of those things where I would like to pitch more frequently as opposed to having those longer layoffs.”

Does Diaz consider himself the Mets’ closer?

“I feel like I have the stuff to be a closer,” Diaz said. “I’ve proven over the past four or five years that I have the stuff and that I can be a closer because I have done it before. Whether it’s here or whether it’s wherever, I think I’m a closer.”

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