Mets lose Alonso, Marte ... but for how long?

June 8th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Considering the disaster that could have befallen the Mets on an otherwise idyllic Tuesday night at Petco Park, a 7-0 loss to the Padres, taken in context, seemed almost palatable.

The game was only a half hour old when the Mets lost both Pete Alonso and Starling Marte to injuries, with Alonso’s appearing particularly alarming. But the initial updates on both wound up being relatively mild.

Alonso, who was hit on the right hand by a 96 mph Yu Darvish sinker, underwent X-rays that came back negative for a fracture. He was scheduled to undergo further imaging to make sure, but for the moment, Alonso appears to have dodged a significant injury.

Marte escaped with what the Mets defined as a bout of left quadriceps tightness, rather than a strain or a tear. He, too, was scheduled for further tests.

“Hopefully, we can get lucky with both of them,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We’ll see.”

Asked if he foresees absences of only a day or two for Alonso and Marte, Showalter replied: “I love your optimism, but I don’t share it at this point. But we’ll see.”

Neither Alonso nor Marte was available postgame to speak about their injuries because they had left the premises to undergo late-night testing, according to a team spokesman. Showalter, however, said that he spoke with Marte immediately after the game, indicating that he was still at Petco Park. The manager also said that Marte was scheduled to undergo his MRI on Wednesday. The spokesman did not respond to a message seeking clarity, shrouding the entire situation in an additional layer of uncertainty.

Answers will come soon, at least, for a Mets team that still has one more game in San Diego before wrapping up this West Coast swing with three in Anaheim.

"Obviously, losing those two guys that quickly took a little air out of everything,” Showalter said.

The injuries melted away many of the good vibes the Mets had established with three consecutive wins over the Dodgers and Padres, and they happened almost immediately at the start of the game Tuesday. After Darvish plunked Brandon Nimmo to open the contest, Marte reached base and came up limping on a stolen-base attempt. Following a lengthy chat with Showalter and a trainer, Marte stayed in the game, but he appeared to be walking gingerly and took nearly 90 seconds to return to the dugout after the inning. He did not return for the bottom of the second.

By that time, Alonso had already departed after taking a Darvish sinker off his right hand as he attempted to check his swing during a second-inning plate appearance. Alonso immediately dropped to the ground in pain and came off the field without hesitation. While the initial X-ray came back negative, Showalter acknowledged afterward that “X-rays sometimes don’t always reveal” hairline fractures or other small breaks in the hand.

Darvish plunked three of the first five Mets batters before settling down to pitch seven scoreless innings. Mets starter Taijuan Walker, meanwhile, allowed four early runs before leveling off himself, and while he noted that “it definitely could have spiraled and gotten worse,” by that point, the damage was done in multiple ways.

The Mets can ill afford an extended absence from either of their injured players, but particularly not Alonso, their most prolific run producer over the first third of the season. Appearing in each of the Mets’ first 58 games, Alonso has a slash line of .282/.363/.546. His 16 homers are tied for the National League lead, while his 54 RBIs are tops in the Majors.

J.D. Davis, who started at first base Monday for the first time since 2018, replaced Alonso as a pinch-runner and took over at first. The Mets recently demoted Dominic Smith to Triple-A Syracuse, but he would be a candidate to return if Alonso misses significant time. The Mets are deeper in the outfield, where Mark Canha replaced Marte in right. Still, a lingering absence wouldn’t be ideal. Following a slow start, Marte had caught fire in recent weeks, hitting .313 with 15 extra-base hits in 30 games since the start of May.

The Mets have two position players -- Gosuke Katoh and Nick Dini -- on their taxi squad in San Diego, but only Katoh boasts significant professional experience at first base or in the outfield. Showalter indicated that the Mets would make contingency plans, perhaps bringing additional players to California in case either injury turns out to be serious.

“I don’t think ‘bind’ is a word I’d use,” the manager said. “It may appear that way, but I look at it as a time for somebody else to shine, like we have all year. Our front office has been ahead of the game keeping us equipped, and we’ll continue to do that.”