WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- In the moment, Francisco Lindor said, he did not see Edwin Díaz hit the turf. Still energized by Puerto Rico’s win over the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, blissfully unaware of what was happening near the pitcher’s mound, Lindor spent his first few moments reveling in the victory with former Mets teammate Javier Báez.
Then Lindor noticed a commotion around someone who had fallen to the ground.
“All I saw were the cleats with the trumpets,” Lindor said. “And I knew that was Edwin.”
Lindor cried. He cried on the field, then again in the clubhouse, then again back at the team hotel. He and his teammates did not yet know that Díaz had suffered a torn patellar tendon and was likely done for the season, but it wasn’t difficult to predict bad news.
“I never knew I loved Edwin so much until I couldn’t stop crying,” Lindor said. “That’s when I realized I love Edwin a lot. It’s one of those moments that you wish you could go back and do it in slow motion. That way no one goes through that. It broke my heart. It did not feel good.”
Since that time, Lindor has received text messages from throughout the baseball universe offering condolences. He has also heard people espouse the narrative that players like him should forgo participating in the WBC due to the risk of injury.
It’s a stance that Lindor cannot back. Asked if he will play for Puerto Rico at the next Classic in three years, Lindor replied: “100%.”
“I’m super proud to be a New York Met, but I’m also super proud to be Puerto Rican,” Lindor said, adding that he feels the tournament has him in better baseball shape than he otherwise would be this time of year.
“Wherever I go -- I tell my mom, ‘Even on the moon I’ll yell, “I’m Puerto Rican!”’ That’s how proud I am of my roots. It’s who I am. It’s part of who I am. So to me, it’s a blessing and an honor and a privilege to be able to wear the [name of your] country, wherever you’re from, across your chest.”
Asked whether he would prefer to win a Classic title or a World Series, Lindor declined to answer, saying he hopes to win multiple of both before he retires. The point, he added, is not to compare one tournament to the other, but for fans -- especially those upset by the injuries to Díaz, Jose Altuve and other WBC participants -- to understand how much this means to players.
“I think the participation should still be there,” Lindor said. “These are injuries that none of us want. None of us. None of us. And they hurt. They suck. They feel terrible. I can understand everyone’s emotions. Believe me, I have those emotions too. … No one wants to get hurt. But we all love our countries and want to represent our countries.”
As for the Mets, Lindor still believes the team can win a World Series without Díaz. Without Díaz, they will simply rally around him.
“Are we going to miss Edwin? 100% we are,” Lindor said. “He’s a huge part of our team. I think he’s the best closer in the game. But we’re all professionals. We’ve all got a job to do, and we’ve got to go out there and take care of business.”