Mets’ Edwin Diaz suffers scary knee injury celebrating Puerto Rico’s WBC win

MIAMI (AP) — All-Star closer Edwin Diaz of the New York Mets was taken off the field in a wheelchair after injuring his right knee celebrating Puerto Rico’s victory over the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night.

The right-hander was swarmed by teammates after pitching a perfect ninth inning in a 5-2 win that clinched Puerto Rico a spot in the WBC quarterfinals. The group was jumping together in the infield when Diaz collapsed to the ground, and he immediately reached for his right leg.

Diaz — as famous for his trumpet-driven entrance music as his dominant pitching — was in tears and did not put any weight on his right leg as a coach and trainer helped him limp toward the dugout.

Diaz’s brother, Alexis, was also crying as Edwin was put in a chair and wheeled away. Mets teammate and Puerto Rico shortstop Francisco Lindor stood nearby with his hands on his head.

The Mets said in a statement about an hour after the game that Diaz had a right knee injury and would undergo imaging Thursday.

Puerto Rico manager Yadier Molina said Diaz also underwent testing at the stadium.

“I was hugging our coaches in the dugout. Then when we looked up, Edwin was on the ground,” Molina said. “I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to act, I didn’t know how to — what to say. I mean, I didn’t know. It got me for a surprise.

“Like I said in the dugout, it sucks, sorry, but when you see a guy that works so hard like Edwin, I mean when you see him on the ground like that, I mean it just is sad.”

The 28-year-old Diaz is a two-time All-Star and two-time reliever of the year. He converted 32 saves for the Mets last season with a 1.31 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 62 innings.

He’s become a sensation in New York for his pitching and his dance-inducing entrance music that leads with a rousing trumpet riff. Diaz comes out of the bullpen at Citi Field to “Narco” by Blasterjaxx and Timmy Trumpet. He even had trumpets painted onto his cleats for the WBC.

Diaz is being counted on as a key contributor for the Mets, who have World Series aspirations after owner Steve Cohen’s latest spending spree pushed the club’s projected payroll to roughly $370 million. Diaz re-signed with the Mets in November for $102 million over five years.

The WBC tournament is being played as MLB players ramp up for the start of the season at the end of March. The WBC has rules in place — in addition to some requests from MLB teams — to try and protect players, particularly pitchers, from getting injured.

Pitchers for all countries are limited to 65 pitches per outing in the first round. If a player throws more than 50 pitches in an outing, he can’t pitch for the next four days. If he throws more than 30, he can’t pitch the next day. Finally, if he throws on back-to-back days, he must sit out the next day.

But few could have imagined Wednesday’s scene.

Puerto Rico center fielder Kike Hernandez said the locker room was quiet after Diaz’s injury.

“It’s a certain point that its bigger than the game,” Hernandez said. “It’s very unfortunate that it happened. As excited as we were about the game and all that, that’s one of our brothers.”

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