ARLINGTON, Texas — The Mets’ new policy regarding injuries apparently includes being less than forthcoming about even the most insignificant of issues. Consider second baseman Neil Walker, who was out of the starting lineup for Wednesday night’s 4-3 win against the Rangers.
Initially, manager Terry Collins said Walker had been given a routine day off, an explanation that made little sense specially with the Mets coming off a scheduled day off on Monday. But following the game, Collins admitted that Walker complained of knee stiffness following Tuesday’s series opener.
“He said he could play,” Collins said. “I told him you’re not going to play with the day off tomorrow.”
Before the game, Walker was spotted during his brief time in the clubhouse with a wrap covering one of his knees. Later, he did not join his teammates for pregame stretching. Instead, he remained indoors to receive treatment for knee stiffness.
Walker was not available to play on Wednesday, though the veteran second baseman is expected to be back in the lineup for Friday’s series opener against the Braves. The rest day on Wednesday combined with Thursday’s scheduled off day will give him a two-day breather.
Walker has been one of the team’s hottest hitters during a stretch in which the Mets have slipped to a season-worst eight games under. 500. They can’t afford an extended absence from the switch-hitter, who has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games. During that span, he’s hitting .396 with five doubles and five homers, including one on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Walker was replaced in the lineup by Jose Reyes, who began the day hitting .190. He has not started since June 1.
The episode revealed the level of attention the Mets have paid to more tightly regulate the flow of information regarding injuries. It has again become a hot-button issue after the organization drew scrutiny for their handling of injuries to Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes.