The names are inscribed in black script over the fingers on a pink baseball glove that will honor the women who mean so much to Edwin Diaz. There’s Nashaly, his wife. There’s Miriam, his sister. There’s Iris, his grandmother. And then there’s one for the thumb — Beatriz, his mom.
The glove is a Mother’s Day special to use on a special Mother’s Day for the closer. Diaz will take pride in wearing it Sunday when the Mets conclude their series against Miami at Citi Field, weather permitting.
“It will be very special,” he said before earning the save by throwing a scoreless ninth inning in Saturday night’s 4-1 win. “I don’t care if I pitch or I don’t pitch. Just wear it for the game. Go outside with the glove I think will be so important for me because that’s the four women in my life. My grandmother took care of my mother. My mother took care of my sister. My wife, she’s got my son.”
The 25-year-old righthander from Puerto Rico had asked Easton to produce the glove for Mother’s Day, and it fits like a glove because of his love for those women. But this Mother’s Day comes with even more joy for Diaz after what happened about two weeks ago with one of them.
Beatriz LaBoy Mendez had gone to the doctor in Puerto Rico where she lives. Diaz spoke to his mother afterward. She had such a good news flash for him after going through radiation and chemo treatments for her cancer.
“I was really happy,” Diaz said. “That day, she told me, ‘I’ve got an appointment.’ She didn’t call me. I called her and asked, ‘How go the appointment?’ She was very happy.”
“I’m cancer-free,” Beatriz told her son.
LaBoy Mendez heard the bad news last summer that she had cancer. When asked what type it was, Diaz wasn’t sure. He merely pointed to the general vicinity, the midsection.
He was pitching for Seattle in 2018, and the sobering diagnosis didn’t prevent him from becoming the youngest reliever in major-league history to save at least 50 games. At the age of 24, he saved 57 of them, tying for the second most in major-league history.
So how did he do it despite having the backdrop of his mom’s situation?
“I stayed positive every time,” Diaz said. “The good thing was she was very positive when she found out she got cancer. She told me, ‘Hey, keep doing your job. We’ll be fine.’ So I stayed relaxed. I knew she was in good hands. I tried to do my job on the field.”
Then he got traded to the Mets in December, along with Robinson Cano and cash considerations, for five players. It was sweet for the Mets to have the pitcher nicknamed “Sugar,” one of the best closers in the game.
“First, I felt surprised because I had a big year in Seattle,” Diaz said. “I thought I would stay there with them. And then when they traded me here, I was really happy. I came with Robinson Cano. That helped me a lot, too, because he played here in New York with the Yankees. So he knows how is New York. I asked him right away when I got traded, ‘How is New York?’ He told me good advice about New York.”
There have been a few glitches, namely the go-ahead homers he surrendered in consecutive outings, both tie games against Cincinnati, on April 29 and May 1. But when he has been handed a game to save, he hasn’t thrown the lead away — 10-for-10.
“He’s thrown the ball great,” Mickey Callaway said. “He might have gave up a couple of homers in tie games that probably leave a bad taste in some people’s mouths, but if you look at the body of work, it’s been outstanding.”
His fastball is known for its electric nature. He knows his slider has been a bit erratic.
“I think I’ve been throwing good ones and bad ones,” Diaz said. “I didn’t find the consistency there on my slider, but I’m working really hard to get it back.”
Callaway has seen a temperament that works in the intense glare of this market.
“He’s absolutely perfect for it,” the manager said. “You see him even after a game when he struggles, he stands up in front of his locker. He answers questions. He owns up to the fact that he didn’t execute a pitch, and he comes to the park the next day ready to go with enthusiasm. He has a smile on his face the next day. He doesn’t get down because he blew the game.”
Diaz is 0-2 with a 2.30 ERA. Lefties are hitting all of .045 against him — 1-for-22 — as opposed to .297 by righties. He has struck out 25 and walked five in 15 2⁄3 innings and has converted 20 straight save chances dating to last season, the second-longest streak of his career.
All in all, he feels he’s off to a good start.
“Even if I’m pitching perfect, I have to keep getting better,” Diaz said. “But I feel pretty happy about my year right now. I think I’m throwing the ball really good. So I just have to keep working.”
Diaz has those women to inspire him. When he posted three photos on Twitter earlier this month of that special pink Mother’s Day glove, he closed with a message for the four to whom it was dedicated:
“I love you all with all I have, with all my life.”