Just as Robinson Canó was beginning to break out as a productive member of the Mets’ offense, the team has lost him for the foreseeable future.
The Mets on Tuesday placed Canó on the 10-day injured list with a Grade 2 left adductor strain, recalling outfielder Billy Hamilton to take his place. The move comes as Canó was amid a 13-for-22 stretch at the plate, raising his batting average to a team-best .412.
“It’s tough to lose three guys like that that are regularly in your lineup, and also, they’re swinging the bat,” manager Luis Rojas said. “Canó is on fire. McNeil is swinging the bat really good, and Rosie’s swinging a good bat as well. As soon as they came out of the game yesterday, it’s tough. You go, ‘Oh, man.’”
The 37-year-old Canó spent a significant portion of his offseason working on his lower-body strength after hamstring and quad injuries limited him to 107 games last season. He had been enjoying an early-season renaissance, batting .412 with seven RBIs in 11 games, including a 2-for-2 performance with three RBIs on Monday, before injuring his groin in that game.
McNeil had been slated to start in left field for the first time on Monday until he felt what the team called “back tightness” during his pregame cage routine. Twenty-four hours later, that diagnosis changed to an intercostal strain. Last year’s Mets batting leader had awoken from a slow start at the plate to boost his batting average to .343 and his OPS to .857 in the team’s first 10 games.
Rosario was batting with the bases loaded in the top of the third inning Monday when he grounded a ball to third base, moving slowly out of the batter’s box. He met after the inning with head trainer Brian Chicklo, who accompanied Rosario -- a .244 hitter in 10 games this season -- off the field with what the team later defined as a quad issue.
As a precaution, the Mets carried infielder Max Moroff on their three-man taxi squad to Washington, but did not activate him even after suffering Monday’s rash of injuries. The team is carrying plenty of infield depth on its active roster, including Luis Guillorme, Brian Dozier and Andrés Giménez, the latter two of whom were in Tuesday’s lineup.
“This game is full of adversity, and we know it as a team,” Rojas said. “What we’ve got to have is the ability to recover and keep moving. I know we have the depth to come in and have a lineup that can come in and compete against any team. So we’re feeling pretty confident about that.”
In New York, you can be a new man
Billy Hamilton's whirlwind last few days included a trade from the Giants to the Mets and a five-hour flight from California to New York, where he went through intake screening and took eight at-bats in a simulated game at the Mets’ alternate training site in Brooklyn.
Tuesday morning, after learning of his callup to the Mets, Hamilton arrived at the airport only to learn his flight had been canceled. He considered hopping on a train to Washington, but said he has “watched too much ‘Criminal Minds’” to feel comfortable doing that. He took a car service instead.
“I got here,” Hamilton said, laughing. “I made it.”
Activated just prior to Tuesday’s game, Hamilton figures to see time as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement late in games. He is a career .242 hitter with 299 stolen bases and 72 Defensive Runs Saved, fourth most among Major League center fielders since his debut in 2013.
“He has a lot of uses,” Rojas said. “This guy’s speed obviously stands out. His defense is also A-plus. He’s a guy that’s a switch-hitter and can do some things for you also in the lineup.”
“I told them I’m willing to do anything they need me to do,” Hamilton said.
Fasten your seatbelts
The Mets endured an eventful flight from Atlanta to Washington early Tuesday morning, as they flew through the western edge of Tropical Storm Isaias. Describing the flight as “bumpy,” Rojas said he looked around and saw a few Mets gripping the edges of their seats.
“I got a little bit scared, too,” catcher Wilson Ramos said. “It’s a scary moment when you open the window and you see the weather like that. But I’m glad we’re here safe and healthy.”