Posted on September 25, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
After being out of the lineup and unavailable for more than two weeks with a wrist injury, the New York Mets remain unsure whether infielder Wilmer Flores will be able to return this season. Even after receiving two cortisone shots, Flores is still struggling to swing a bat at full strength, making it harder and harder to envision him being able to return to the field with just a week left in the regular season.
The wrist injury stems from a home plate collision with Atlanta Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski on September 10. The concern for Flores was originally over his neck following that collision with Pierzynski, but that concern soon moved to his wrist. The fact that Flores was not lifted for a pinch-runner late in the game was a point of controversy, with manager Terry Collins taking a great deal of criticism, as the slow-footed Flores represented the potential winning run late in a close game.
Following the collision, Flores was ultimately diagnosed with a bone bruise, and more than two weeks later, doctors are still recommending rest for the injury. “I never thought it was going to take this long,” Flores said on Saturday. “I am worried. But I’m very positive that I’ll feel good.”
Flores says that he’s able to run and play the field without a problem, but swinging a bat remains problematic. “Not close to hitting,” Collins said on Saturday when he was asked about Flores. “Yesterday he took better swings, more aggressive swings. But he hasn’t taken any batting practice at all.”
The long recovery from what appeared to be a relatively minor injury has been frustrating for Flores. “I want to be healthy,” he said. “I’m the first guy that wants to be out there helping the team. It’s just frustrating. I want to tough it out, but it’s something that I don’t want to hurt the team and hurt myself by doing that.”
Flores came on strong the second half of the season, first being part of a platoon at first base with James Loney and then becoming the team’s best option at second base after the Mets lost Neil Walker to a season-ending back injury. Since the all-star break, Flores is hitting .281 with an .819 OPS. He’s been particularly lethal against left-handed pitching, helping the Mets to balance out a predominantly left-hand hitting outfield.
The Mets have been fortunate to get contributions from rookie T.J. Rivera at second base while Flores has been out. Lucas Duda has also returned from the DL recently to give the Mets another option at first base. Nevertheless, the Mets would like to get Flores back as soon as possible, even if he’s just an option coming off the bench.
Heading into Sunday, the Mets are tied for the two wild card spots in the National League with the San Francisco Giants, with the St. Louis Cardinals just a half game back. The way Flores has hit the second half of the season, he could be a real asset over the final seven games of the regular season. Unfortunately for the Mets, time is running out to get Flores back on the field.