Mets’ Diaz throws outdoors, hoping for ’23 return

NEW YORK — After throwing his first outdoor bullpen session following knee surgery, New York Mets All-Star closer Edwin Diaz remained hopeful he can make a mound return this season.

The 29-year-old right-hander tore his right patellar tendon March 15 while celebrating after getting the final out of Puerto Rico’s win over the Dominican Republic at the World Baseball Classic. The projected timeline for a return was six-to-eight months.

“My goal was to be ready in six months,” Diaz said Monday. “And I’m working on that.”

Diaz said he was clocked in the low-to-mid 90s Sunday, when he threw on an outdoor bullpen mound to a catcher in the crouching position for the first time since getting hurt.

“I know my stuff is there,” Diaz said. “A main thing for me is how my knee is good and healthy, I feel healthy right now and I’m pitching again. I just want to get that positive note to go home and relax, work hard for next year.”

Mets manager Buck Showalter has been encouraged by Diaz’s progress but said it’s too early to determine whether a September return is possible.

“We’re waiting for the medical sign-off, and then there will be a decision to be made,” Showalter said. “But that’s a good thing to think that he would be considered. It’d be really exciting for everybody. Whether or not we go down that road, we’re not there yet.”

Diaz had 64 saves and a 4.00 ERA for the Mets from 2019 to 2021, when had 32 saves with a 1.31 ERA and striking out 118 in 62 innings last season. He agreed in November to a $102 million, five-year contract, a record deal for a closer.

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