Matz and Walker Battle Injuries
STORY AND PHOTOS BY JOE RINI
Just when it seemed like the 2016 dreams of the Mets were dashed and the Terry Collins farewell tour was about to begin in San Francisco, the Amazins have won eight of 10 games heading into play on August 31 as they hope their September stretch drive will lead to a wildcard berth in October.
Powered by the return from the disabled list of Yoenis Cespedes, Asdrubal Cabrera and a revitalized Jose Reyes at the top of the lineup, the Mets have won four of five on the current 10 game homestand.
Yet even with the team’s current hot streak, the injury bug has been relentless as Steven Matz (shoulder soreness) and Neil Walker (injured back) face a possible early end to their seasons. Matz was expected to return from the DL and start against the Marlins on Thursday but he’ll be scratched after experiencing soreness while throwing on flat ground on Monday.
Matz told reporters on Tuesday, “I don’t quite feel like I can let it go yet. I talked to them — the training staff — and that’s the decision, just to give it some rest and let it calm down.” Matz will be replaced by Jacob deGrom, who the Mets had hoped to rest a few more days after the team skipped the fatigued righthander’s regular turn in the rotation on Monday.
The beleaguered Mets pitching staff has been bolstered in recent days by the contributions of rookies Seth Lugo, Rob Gsellman, and Rafael Montero in addition to the performance of fan favorite Bartolo Colon, who not only collected his 12th win on August 26 against the Phillies but had his first two-hit game at the plate in 14 years.
Prior to the game on August 26, a 9-4 Mets win, I asked Terry Collins how the team had been affected by the loss of David Wright and Matt Harvey from a leadership perspective, and he said, “David Wright’s presence is missed on the road. His respect around the league is second to none… in the clubhouse, when David Wright says something to you, you really pay attention… we’ve had to work hard to find leadership to step in.”
Collins continued, “When Matt Harvey is going good, he is an attention grabber… It takes a little heat off the other guys around him. They’re the guys everyone turns to.”
Collins said it’s been an adjustment period to replace them. “We’ve had to ask guys to take a leadership role that normally just play.” Speaking of the mettle the Mets have shown this season in the face of adversity and without leaders Wright and Harvey, Collins repeated a sentiment he’d expressed earlier, “Are we happy with our record? No. But…I’m really proud how guys have stepped up and kept us in the hunt because they could have said, ‘That’s not my job. My job is to be a piece, not a main piece.’ We need guys to be a main piece.”
Also in attendance at the August 26th game was Rockland County resident David Pollack, better known as the radio host of the “Taxi Dave Show” on WOR-710 AM on Sundays at 8:00 PM. “Taxi Dave” was a guest photographer at the game as part of a fundraising event for the Hagerdorn Little Village School of Seaford, New York, which provides educational and therapeutic services to children with special needs. Given that the Mets opened Friday’s game with home runs by their first two batters for only the second time in franchise history, perhaps Taxi Dave should be invited back soon.