CINCINNATI — Edwin and Alexis Diaz, brothers and big-leaguers, are the best of friends, too.
There is no sibling rivalry here, they insist. They are offseason workout partners, personal coaches/sounding boards and each other’s biggest fan, eager to duck back into the clubhouse after a game to see what the other one did that night.
Who has the better slider? Alexis, they agreed, because his moves more (even if Edwin’s is faster).
What happens when one has a bad outing (or even a bad middle-of-the-winter bullpen session)? They get on FaceTime and hash it out, because the other guy and his practically identical mechanics probably will be able to see something amiss.
Who, when they were growing up in Puerto Rico, was the favorite?
“He is still the baby for my parents,” said Edwin, the middle of the three Diaz kids. “That’s fine. I’m not jealous. I’m happy for him. He’s doing everything great.”
This year, that includes pitching in the majors. The Mets’ visit to Cincinnati this week marks the first time their teams have played against each other since Alexis, 25, broke into the majors by becoming a surprise winner of a relief job coming out of spring training.
He is on the injured list with right biceps tendinitis, so the world won’t get both brothers in the same game just yet. Nonetheless, for the rest of the Diazes, the series meant one thing: a reunion in Ohio.
Edwin, 28, said the crew included their parents, their wives and sons, their older sister Miriam, their nephews and a couple of family friends. They expect a much larger group — 40 to 50 people — when the Reds come to Citi Field on Aug. 8-10.
It all is pretty darn cool, the brothers said during a joint interview Monday afternoon in the visitors’ dugout at Great American Ball Park.
“I’m really happy for him, because he made it,” Edwin said. “He battled with some injuries in the minor leagues and made it to the big leagues. I’m really happy for him having success right now.”
Alexis said of Edwin: “It’s a season that you dream of having . . . I hope he ends the season as well as he’s going right now.”
Alexis spoke through an interpreter because he is not as comfortable speaking English publicly as Edwin is, so “we’re working on that,” the elder Diaz said with a smile that triggered the same in the other.
The family resemblance is striking. Their faces confirm that, yes, they are brothers. They feature the same fastball/ slider combo. And their pitching motions are the same.
“Everyone has said that since the beginning of my professional career,” said Alexis, who was drafted by the Reds in 2015, three years after the Mariners picked Edwin. “We’ve always just worked together in the offseason. There’s a reason why people will compare us all the time.”
While Edwin has made a strong case to be an All-Star with a 1.95 ERA and 17.5 strikeouts per nine innings in his best season out of four with the Mets, Alexis has been a standout in Cincinnati. He has a 2.40 ERA and 1.00 WHIP and even picked up a pair of saves.
That felt possible, Alexis said, ever since he watched Edwin do the same.
“When you’re young, you don’t really know necessarily that you’re going to become a baseball player,” Alexis said. “It really started when he finally signed his major-league contract. I was like, OK, maybe I do have a chance to become a great baseball player as well.”
As for that no-sibling-rivalry stuff? Turns out there is an exception: major-league games.
“Now we’re in the big leagues,” Edwin said. “I told him, ‘Hey, if I get the chance to pitch against you guys, I will get the win.’ He told me the same. So we just want to have fun there.”