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Edwin Díaz returns to mound for Mets for first time since October 2022

 The Associated Press  |    Mar 30th, 2024 6:47pm EDT

NEW YORK (AP) — Mets closer Edwin Díaz returned to a major league mound after an absence of 538 days, pitching the ninth inning in New York’s 7-6 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.

Díaz missed last season after tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee while celebrating a win for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. He received a standing ovation from the Citi Field crowd of 30,296 as he entered to the familiar sounds of Timmy Trumpet’s “Narco.” Mr. and Mrs. Met mimed playing the trumpet on the scoreboard as Díaz jogged to the mound and began warming up.

“It means a lot,” Díaz said of the reaction. “I think they love me. I was really, really, really happy when I started feeling everyone cheering and screaming.”

Díaz retired Rhys Hoskins on a popup and got Joey Ortiz to line out before Brice Turang singled and stole second and third. The 30-year-old closer, who struck out 118 batters in 62 innings in 2022, tstruck out rookie Jackson Chourio.

“Came in, attacked hitters,” Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. “It was good to get him in the game. Obviously hoping to see him when we got the lead.”

Díaz, who entered with the Mets trailing, asked to pitch because he hadn’t seen game action since an exhibition last weekend.

He also acknowledged feeling more nerves than normal in his first outing since Oct. 9, 2022, when he threw the eighth inning of the Mets’ season-ending 6-0 loss to the San Diego Padres in Game 3 of the NL Wild Card Series.

“When I started warming up, I started getting nervous — been a long time, out one year,” Díaz said. “I controlled my emotions pretty good. I threw my pitches, I made my pitches and I got the three outs.”

Díaz went 3-1 with a 1.31 ERA and 32 saves in 2022 for New York, which won 101 games. The Mets finished 75-87 last season, when their relievers had a 4.45 ERA and went 34 for 52 in save chancess.

“Everything’s finally normal,” Díaz said. “Can’t wait to keep helping the team to see if we can win some games.”

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb