Four days after reinjuring his left quadriceps, Robinson Cano went back on the injured list Sunday.
The Mets made that decision and transaction in the morning when Cano was unable to play in the series finale against the Rockies. Righthander Tim Peterson was called up from Triple-A Syracuse to take Cano’s roster spot.
Cano said he is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday with Syracuse or Binghamton. He framed his return to the IL as more about easing back into game shape and getting at-bats than reinjuring himself.
If his minor-league buildup — beginning with five innings and progressing to full games — goes well, Cano could return as soon as he is eligible on June 16.
“I feel good and it feels good,” he said Sunday, technically his fourth of the minimum 10 days on the IL because his placement was retroactive to Thursday. “I want to contribute to the team offensively, too. It’s hard to come out and being out for two weeks, not seeing pitching and going out and hitting. Anyone can try, but I want to go down and see some pitches.”
Manager Mickey Callaway said: “It just got to a point where we felt like this was the best thing for Robbie. We need Robbie to be back and play at 100 percent and be the player he needs to be. We felt this route was going to give us the best chance to accomplish that.”
This is the latest chapter in the strange saga of Cano’s injured leg. He strained his left quadriceps on May 22 when running out a grounder, returned Wednesday for four innings and two at-bats, and limped to first base on another grounder before leaving the game. That put Cano and the Mets in wait-and-see mode, with daily pregame workouts and evaluations to see if he could play that night, which for three days in a row resulted in the same answer: No.
On Sunday, the Mets decided to stop playing a man down.
“I don’t feel like we were playing shorthanded,” said Callaway, who had one fewer player than usual from Thursday to Saturday. “Obviously, we got a pitcher in his stead. We didn’t really need a pitcher for the last couple days.”
In Cano’s absence, Jeff McNeil stands to fill in most days at second base, which would open up leftfield for the hot-hitting Dominic Smith (or J.D. Davis against lefthanded starters).
Cano, 36, has struggled in his first season with the Mets after joining the team with Edwin Diaz in an offseason trade with the Mariners, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen’s marquee offseason move. He has a .238/.284/.366 slash line, three homers and 14 RBIs.
He said he isn’t too disappointed about missing the Mets’ games against the Yankees, his former team, on Monday and Tuesday. Getting healthy is more important.
Said Cano, “I feel good, but at the same time, you look back to the big picture. I haven’t swung in almost three weeks. I’d rather go down and take some at-bats and work through it.”
McNeil and Smith were out of the starting lineup Sunday, but Callaway said both had planned days off. Smith eventually went in as a defensive replacement for Pete Alonso . . . With the Mets getting the luxury of a DH at Yankee Stadium on Monday and Tuesday, Callaway said Pete Alonso likely will DH at least Monday, with Smith at first base . . . The Mets signed 18 draft picks, including everybody from rounds 5-10, the team announced . . . Former Mets third baseman/first baseman/manager Joe Torre was at Citi Field on Sunday.
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