Lindor still loves WBC despite Diaz's injury: It's 'the ultimate honor'
Francisco Lindor is not losing faith in the World Baseball Classic despite watching Edwin Diaz - his teammate on both the New York Mets and Team Puerto Rico - suffer a potentially season-ending torn patellar tendon during Wednesday's celebration.
While the superstar shortstop understands the concerns from fans about how Diaz's injury in the tournament affects the Mets' World Series aspirations, he still sees participating in the WBC as being on the same level as lifting the Commissioner's Trophy in October.
"I understand how Mets fans are hurting. But while for so many people the regular season is what counts, playing in the WBC means just as much to all of us," Lindor told ESPN's Marly Rivera. "It is the dream of every Puerto Rican ballplayer to wear Puerto Rico's colors and to represent our country. And not only Puerto Ricans, but every player in the WBC considers being here the ultimate honor."
Diaz's injury appeared to happen in freakish fashion, as he was being mobbed after saving Puerto Rico's critical victory over the Dominican Republic. The celebration was raucous as the win moved Puerto Rico on to the quarterfinals, though the mood quickly turned once the severity of the injury became apparent.
Although it didn't occur during the game itself, the Diaz incident shone a spotlight on the potential for serious injuries in the WBC. Many MLB teams have endorsed the tournament while still expressing concerns about their players' health. Mets general manager Billy Eppler noted Thursday that the team asked Starling Marte not to participate in the WBC after undergoing offseason abdominal surgery, although the team allowed several other stars to play.
Manager Buck Showalter felt like the Diaz incident wasn't only a product of the tournament environment.
"It could've happened 20 times last year in some of the celebrations we had," Showalter said, according to Newsday's Tim Healey.
Lindor - who circled the bases on Julio Rodriguez's three-base error during Puerto Rico's win - knows the Mets will feel Diaz's absence in 2023. But he also took a more level-headed approach towards how and why the injury happened.
"We don't want injuries to happen, but it is part of the game," he said. "Of course, this is sad for all Mets fans. And I want to thank them for being so concerned about us, and about Edwin, and I really do also feel your pain."