It took two weeks for Robinson Canó to come off the injured list, and three innings to hurt himself all over again.
Cano, who originally strained his left quadriceps running out a ground ball last month, came up limp while trying to beat a third-inning double play Wednesday night, and was later announced to have tightness in that same quad. Cano stayed in for the top of the fourth, but was subbed out at second base by Adeiny Hechavarria in the fifth. Prior to this season, Cano had only landed on the then-disabled list twice in his entire career, and the Mets are currently unsure if he’ll land there for the second time this season on Thursday, after he gets evaluated. Cano, though, said he’s hopeful he’ll avoid the IL.
“I just have tightness, nothing else,” he said. “I can move [the leg] everywhere...[The injury is] not even close to what it was. I just have tightness. If it was the same feeling, I would have said it right away…They just wanted to be cautious.”
Cano had only been activated and slotted into the three-hole hours prior, with Aaron Altherr designated for assignment in a corresponding move. Before the third-inning hiccup, Cano said that he wasn’t exactly 100 percent, but was confident that he could get there. It all started off well enough, with a run-scoring ground out in the first to get the Mets on the board, but quickly turned on that double play. Cano said later that he wasn’t limping because he was in pain, but because he felt the tightness and didn’t want to aggravate it.
Before the game, he said he would take it a little bit easier the first few days back. “You’re never going to be 100 percent unless you take longer than what [you think for it to heal],” he said. “It’s an injury. That’s a muscle. You have to stretch it and stretch it. The more that I play, the more it’s going to get stretched and go back to normal.”
Mickey Callaway nodded when asked if he was aware that Cano said he wasn’t 100 percent, but stood by the decision to activate him.
“We knew that he was ready to be activated to play,” Callaway said. “I think he understands his body more than we can evaluate it. He looked great running down the line. He looked great fielding. He expressed to us that he was ready to go and so we activated him.
“I think we did everything we could. We leaned on the player. We put him through strenuous workouts. I think we approached it the right way. Some things are out of your control. There’s no regrets. I just hope he’s not injured for a longer period of time.”
Asked if he could’ve benefitted from more time on the IL, Cano said no. “I don’t want to say that because I just feel tightness," he said. "Sometimes, you don’t know how things are going to be. I was…taking BP and ground balls and everything felt perfect.”
In all, Wednesday night was another frustrating chapter in this book. Brought in as a marquee trade piece, Cano, even at 36, was supposed to signify that the Mets were in win-now mode — willing to pick up the tail end of that gargantuan contract, to the tune of five years and $120 million. Instead, he’s sputtered in his return from last year’s suspension-shortened season, with career lows across the board, and dipping power numbers that have meant just three home runs in 45 games. Going into the game, he was a minus-2 runs above replacement, and minus-0.3 wins above replacement, according to Baseball Reference. He’s also been more aggressive at the plate, Callaway said, and to his detriment.
“I don’t think it’s one or two things,” Callaway said. “I just think that he wasn’t getting it done. That’s just the bottom line. I think that it’s not a lack of effort. It’s not a lack of preparation. It’s just that he wasn’t getting the results he wanted.”