Cuddyer's knee passes first test with flying colors
In first game since return from DL, outfielder collects 2 hits, stolen base vs. Rockies
NEW YORK -- Michael Cuddyer spent Tuesday afternoon in preemptive mode, molding a new toe guard to fit his left cleat, knowing he's already missed enough time for one career. Hours away from returning from his latest disabled list stint -- he's spent parts of eight seasons there and made four trips in two years -- Cuddyer's focus was far from his most recent ailment.
That's the recovering bone bruise in Cuddyer's left knee, which the veteran put through a complete workout in the Mets' 4-0 win over Colorado on Tuesday. In its first Major League game since July 21, Cuddyer's knee passed every test. Cuddyer had two hits, scored twice, stole a base and advanced to another, and landed a diving catch in right field.
His emergence from the outfield grass after robbing Jose Reyes of a hit in the sixth came without limp, instead proud trotting. And his aggressive baserunning helped ensure one of the takeaways from a sticky night in Flushing would be that he's healthy enough to challenge Juan Lagares for playing time against left-handed pitching.
After singling with one out in the sixth, Cuddyer advanced to second on an infield hit. He raced around third when Ruben Tejada punched a single to right, stomping on home plate with that left leg ahead of Carlos Gonzalez's wide throw.
In the eighth inning Cuddyer stole just his second base of the season, then scurried to third when catcher Nick Hundley's throw skipped away.
"There are pros, guys who appreciate the game and do the things you are supposed to do," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Michael Cuddyer fits in that category. When he gets on base, his knee doesn't hurt. It might hurt him. But when he's in action, it doesn't hurt him."
"The knee felt fine," Cuddyer said. "As an athlete you either can or you can't play. When I can play, everything is good. We'll leave it at that."
Cuddyer's bat provided ample supporting tune amid the chorus of Lagares' big night, after both started with Michael Conforto and Curtis Granderson sitting against left-hander Chris Rusin. Both starters at the onset of the season, Lagares and Cuddyer now profile more as platoon players after the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes. There is rarely room for both in a lineup. But a healthy Cuddyer provides Collins more options.
"It was necessary to take that DL stint and I'm glad it worked," Cuddyer said.