NEW YORK -- Asdrubal Cabrera's face wrenched in pain as he lay prone on the ground, his face buried in the outfield grass, his toes touching the infield dirt. Diving on a rain-soaked track in the third inning of Saturday's 11-3 win, Cabrera thrust his weight awkwardly onto his left thumb, sustaining an injury potentially significant enough for the Mets to consider calling up top prospect Amed Rosario.
"I don't know how bad it is," manager Terry Collins said. "But he's certainly hurting."
Throughout his first year-plus with the Mets, Cabrera has earned a reputation for playing through pain. For most of last season, the 31-year-old Cabrera battled knee trouble, but still finished second on the team with 141 games. This year, leg soreness has twice forced him out of action.
Yet Collins cannot recall seeing Cabrera in as much pain as the shortstop felt Saturday. Staying down for about a minute, Cabrera eventually climbed back to his feet and walked off the field. He underwent X-rays, which were negative, but will face a stiffer test Sunday in an MRI tube. There, doctors will check for ligament damage.
"He was in quite a bit of pain on the field," Collins said. "The MRI will tell us a lot more. He's just real sore, so we'll just have to wait and see."
If Cabrera, who is batting .260 with three home runs in 28 games, misses only minimal time, the Mets can patch together an infield with Jose Reyes at shortstop and Wilmer Flores at third base, as they did for the balance of Saturday's game against the Marlins. But if Cabrera loses significant time to the disabled list, the club will at least consider Rosario, one of the most highly regarded prospects in franchise history.
At Triple-A Las Vegas this season, Rosario is batting .364, which puts him among the Pacific Coast League's leaders. Scouts rave about both his glove and bat, and they believe he will develop at least average power as he ages. At Double-A Binghamton last summer, Rosario hit .341 as a 20-year-old, with two home runs, five triples and 14 doubles in 14 games.
But calling Rosario up now would likely make him Super 2 eligible, meaning the Mets would risk shelling out significant dollars to him over a four-year arbitration period, instead of the typical three years that most players receive. It would be a costly maneuver, considering the Mets could avoid that by keeping Rosario in the Minors for another month.
Shortly after Saturday's game, general manager Sandy Alderson met with Collins to discuss the team's options.
"He's ready," Reyes said of Rosario, with whom he played briefly at Binghamton last season. "He plays the game so relaxed. He's been doing great in the Minor Leagues. I don't know what they're going to do, because I don't make that decision, but when he gets here, he's going to be fine. He knows what he's got to do, and his talent is going to take over."
Late Saturday evening, the Mets were more worried about Cabrera, a clubhouse leader and their regular No. 2 hitter. They will sort out the rest in time.
"He's a true professional," outfielder Jay Bruce said. "He's one of the main cogs that kind of keeps this thing going."