Pillar: 'Am I in the lineup today or what?'

May 18th, 2021

After taking a pitch to the face in Monday night's game against the Braves, which resulted in multiple nasal fractures and a trip to the injured list, Mets outfielder Kevin Pillar arrived to Truist Park on Tuesday in good spirits.

According to teammate Marcus Stroman, upon entering the clubhouse, Pillar asked, "Am I in the lineup today, or what?"

According to manager Luis Rojas, Pillar said that if he wasn't having vision problems as a result of the hit-by-pitch, he'd have been fighting to get into Tuesday's lineup.

"I feel good. I feel real good, actually. Despite not looking so good, I feel as close to normal as possible," Pillar said. "The only tough thing is [that] my right eye is suffering from a little bit of swelling, and I can't really breathe out of my nose. But besides that I feel good, and I feel lucky and excited to get on this recovery and get back to what I love doing."

The next step in Pillar's recovery is nasal surgery, as he explained that the only damage was to his nose. But Pillar must wait for the swelling to go down before his nose can be surgically reset. Pillar will likely have the surgery back in New York.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said Tuesday that he texted with Pillar after the hit-by-pitch, with the outfielder replying, "If I could see out of my right eye, I'd be in there today."

After Pillar was hit, it was clear that Braves pitcher Jacob Webb was concerned. Webb stated that he was not trying to hit Pillar on purpose and Snitker said Webb will likely not see time on the mound over the next few days, so that he can work past the scary event. 

"Obviously, I'm thinking about him," Webb said. "I injured the guy. It's definitely tough moving forward. It's just something you've got to get out of your mind and go back to doing your thing. But my main concern was making sure he's all right."

Though Pillar's good humor was a huge relief to the Mets after Monday's scary moment, the injury further thins out their roster after Opening Day starters Jeff McNeil (strained left hamstring) and Michael Conforto (strained right hamstring) were placed on the injured list on Monday. Tuesday's lineup featured only three players the Mets envisioned as regular starters when the season began: Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith.

 "That's the thing that hurts the most. My face will heal, but my heart's broken right now, because this team is hurting right now," Pillar said. "I was gifted an opportunity to play every day and I can't do that, and it hurts."

To add some depth, the Mets acquired veteran outfielder Cameron Maybin from the Cubs for cash before Tuesday's game. He was assigned to Triple-A Syracuse.

Along with placing Pillar on the injured list, the Mets called up infielder Wilfredo Tovar from Syracuse and designated catcher Deivy Grullon for assignment.