PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — All of a sudden, the Mets’ depth chart at third base doesn’t look so deep.
Todd Frazier suffered a left oblique strain, the team said Tuesday, and went to New York to get a cortisone shot. They don’t know when he will be able to play again.
Last week, Jed Lowrie was diagnosed with a sprained left knee. The Mets also don’t know when he’ll be back, but he was not optimistic in recent days that he would be ready for the start of the regular season. He has not resumed baseball activity.
Two weeks into a spring training that began with the Mets lauding their infield depth in particular, it’s anybody’s guess who the full-time third baseman will be come Opening Day.
“This was part of the design, to make sure we had versatility and depth to cover whatever came our way,” general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. “There’s no reason to push too aggressively too fast here as we’re still sitting here in February. As camp goes forward, we’ll have a little bit better handle on timelines or the activity level for these guys.”
Among the third-base candidates if Lowrie and Frazier are unavailable: J.D. Davis, Adeiny Hechavarria and Luis Guillorme. And then there is Jeff McNeil, who is converting from infield to outfield this spring. The Mets will continue to give him most of his reps in left — for now.
“But we know he can move back to the infield, and there’s plenty of time,” Van Wagenen said. “If we need to have him get more reps at third, then we can.”
Frazier, who had been scheduled to make his spring training debut Wednesday, said his oblique tightened up Monday while he was taking live batting practice. He was sent for an MRI locally, revealing the strain. Van Wagenen said Frazier is going to New York for a cortisone shot because of “the comfortability with the medical staff.”
This is the third injury in 10 months for Frazier, who in seven major-league seasons had never been on the disabled list until he joined the Mets. Last May, he had a strained left hamstring. In July, he had a strained left rib cage muscle.
“This is different,” Frazier said. “It’s a different spot.”
But it’s still frustrating for Frazier, 33, who said he was ramping up slowly this spring because he “wanted to try something different, going slow with everything.” Manager Mickey Callaway cited Frazier’s consistent health, 2018 aside, among the reasons the Mets weren’t worried about having so many 30-plus position players.
“I thought I was doing everything right,” Frazier said. “It’s just something that happens, I guess. But I’m frustrated. I’m very frustrated with myself. Just one of those things where you come into the year all healthy and ready to roll, and this happens. It’s not fun.
"Not the best start. But luckily it happened here in spring training and we can nip this thing in the bud and get ready for the season. I was hitting the ball great and at the end, just felt a little tightness in my left side."
The injuries to Frazier and Lowrie, if they last, also increase the chances that first-base prospect Pete Alonso makes the team out of camp. Frazier was considered an option at first, but the likelihood of that decreased when Lowrie went down.
After an offseason of stressing depth and valuing defensive flexibility, those areas will face an early test at Mets camp.
“Every good team has depth,” Van Wagenen said. “As we’ve seen here so far in camp, there are going to be guys on different schedules, and you have to have people that can step up and play not only at a high level, but also be able to play multiple positions. Fortunately, we have that.”