Mauricio sticking close to Mets in ACL tear recovery

February 22nd, 2024

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- At first glance, video of Ronny Mauricio’s injury in the Dominican Winter League seemed relatively innocuous. A pitcher for Águilas Cibaeñas hit one of Mauricio’s teammates on Licey with a pitch. Mauricio, who stopped short while attempting a steal of second, fell to the ground and spent a moment on his knees. He eventually stood up, flexed his right leg a couple of times and walked off the field under his own power.

“To be honest, I didn’t think it would be as serious as it was,” Mauricio said through an interpreter Thursday at Mets camp.

It was only after going for an MRI that Mauricio learned he had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, requiring surgery that will sideline him for most if not all of this season. Mauricio, who is technically in big league camp but has been receiving treatment on the Minor League side of the Mets’ Clover Park facility, showed up Thursday to greet his teammates and give an update on his status.

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it a frustration for me,” he said. “I think this is one of those learning lessons that I can take advantage of, something where I can continue to progress. I wouldn’t say that it was technically a good thing that happened, but it’s definitely something that I can kind of sit down and reflect, just continue to grow as a player."

Had Mauricio been healthy, he would have been a prime candidate to start at either second or third base for the Mets, coming off a season that saw him rake at Triple-A and produce a .643 OPS during a 26-game big league debut, which included some of the hardest-hit balls by any Met all season. Just 22 years old, Mauricio ranked -- and still does rank -- among the brightest prospects in the organization.

Instead, the Mets will rely on Jeff McNeil as their full-time second baseman rather than use him in the outfield. At third base, the team will give reps to Brett Baty, Mark Vientos and Joey Wendle, with hope that either Baty or Vientos can prove worthy of the full-time job.

Mauricio, meanwhile, will spend his summer rehabbing. He’s currently strengthening his legs in the hope that he can eventually progress to a running program and, if all goes well, return in September. That’s probably a long shot, given the severity of Mauricio’s injury. But it’s theoretically possible, giving him a goal at which to aim.

This spring, the Mets want Mauricio around big league camp as much as possible, taking part in hitters’ meetings and being around the team. Whenever Mauricio travels to New York this summer for medical checkups and other appointments, the Mets will likewise incorporate him into their daily agenda.

“I think it’s important that even though he’s not out on the field, he’s a part of the conversation,” manager Carlos Mendoza said. “The connection to the boys, the connection to the coaching staff -- it’s important for him that he feels that, because he’s a big part of what we’re trying to do moving forward.”