WASHINGTON — The Mets lost their hottest hitter, Robinson Cano, to the injured list Tuesday but they hope to get their other hindered infielders — Jeff McNeil and Amed Rosario — back sooner.
All three received MRIs ahead of the Mets’ game against the Nationals, a day after getting hurt Monday. That delayed the lineup announcement until 40 minutes before the scheduled first pitch as the Mets patched together a starting nine that included just five players from their usual order.
Cano’s injury is most severe: a grade two strain of his left adductor, a muscle in his groin. This is his fourth trip to the IL with a leg problem in two seasons with the Mets. At the start of spring training, he said he spent the offseason strengthening his legs in an effort to avoid these issues.
Manager Luis Rojas said the Mets are hopeful that Cano won’t miss much more than the minimum 10 days on the IL..
McNeil was diagnosed with a low grade strain of his right intercostal, a group of muscles between the ribs. The Mets say it affects his lower back. He is day-to-day.
Rosario’s official injury is the same as what the team called it Monday: left quad tightness. He, too, is day-to-day.
“It’s really tough to lose those guys,” Wilson Ramos said. “We need those bats in the lineup, especially Robbie and McNeil — they’re really hot right now.”
Cano leads Mets regulars in average (. 412), OBP (. 462) and slugging percentage (. 559). McNeil is second in average (. 343).
Rosario — the leadoff man against most lefthanded starters — was off to a slower start, hitting .244 with no walks and a .366 slugging mark.
Billy Hamilton takes Cano's spot
To take Cano’s roster spot, the Mets added outfielder Billy Hamilton, who is a well-above-average defender and baserunner but a well-below-average hitter. They acquired him Sunday from the Giants for prospect Jordan Humphreys.
“Definitely just a great guy to have, to come off the bench and steal a bag, to create different things for you, to come in and play defense and make a game-changing play back there,” Rojas said. “He's got a lot of uses for us.”
Hamilton said: “They told me just be ready for anything . . . I told them I’m willing to do anything they need me to do.”
He arrived in New York on Sunday, took eight at-bats at the Mets’ alternative training site in Brooklyn on Monday and traveled to Washington on Tuesday.
At first, he was going to take a plane. But when he got to the airport he learned his flight was canceled. The Mets offered him a train ticket.
“I told them I watch too much ‘Criminal Minds’ for the train, man,” Hamilton said. “I said, I wanted to take a car service and get down there. So I ended up getting a car service and getting on down here.”
Isaias makes it a rough ride
As the Mets’ flight arrived here around 3 a.m. Monday, so did Tropical Storm Isaias.
“It got a little bumpy,” Rojas said. “I was looking around. I saw a few people kind of holding to their seats.”
Wilson Ramos added: “I got a little bit scared too. . . .It’s a scary moment when you open the window and you see weather like that. I’m glad we’re here safe.”
The storm didn’t hit Washington, D.C., as hard as it did the New York area. It stopped raining by Nationals Park around 11 a.m. and was sunny and dry — and hot — shortly thereafter.
Rojas said he spoke Sunday with infielder Luis Guillorme, who had just three at-bats through the first 11 games, about playing more soon and whether he could play first base in an emergency. “He said of course,” Rojas said. “We’re looking for him to get into that groove of getting more at-bats.” . . .Robert Gsellman (right triceps tightness) is closer to a return than Brad Brach (coronavirus), according to Rojas . . . Reliever Jared Hughes, who tossed two scoreless innings in his Mets debut Monday, said he grew up surfing in California. He heard New York offers some surfing opportunities, but it's in his contract that he is not allowed to.