Starling Marte played through pain all season. Now, the outfielder is hoping to return for the end of the season pain-free.
Marte is eligible to come off the 10-day injured list this week but he’s not ready to be activated. This was his second trip to the IL in a month, as Marte battled migraine headaches shortly after the All-Star break ahead of the birth of his daughter. Now he’s battling a right groin strain after an entire season of dealing with groin pain following double hernia surgery last winter.
It’s been a challenging season for everyone in Queens, but it’s been extra trying for the Mets’ 34-year-old right fielder.
“It’s been tough, especially with migraines because they can hit you at any moment and you can’t really control it,” Marte said through a translator Monday at Citi Field before the Mets opened a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. “But at the end of the day, I want to be back on the field. I want to be there with my teammates and my friends and to be able to do the best thing I can possibly do — which is go out there and contribute to the team.”
While the timetable for a return to play is unknown, the Mets don’t currently have any plans on shutting him down for the rest of 2023. He received an injection in his groin and has been doing light work on the field since going on the IL, but he isn’t yet participating in baseball activities. He hasn’t played since Aug. 5 and managed only two games in between IL stints.
It’s been a down season for Marte as he dealt with pain, tightness and soreness in his groin. He slashed .248/.301/.324 with a .625 OPS in 86 games. There were missed fly balls in right field and a perceived lack of hustle by the fans and it was surprising given that he was an All-Star a year ago.
But the reality is that running out fly balls in right was painful. Lateral movement can be challenging with a sore groin and tracking balls in the outfield requires planting, pivoting and changing directions. Sprinting in one direction is much easier and while Marte’s sprint speed did decline this season, he still managed to steal 24 bases.
There might be something to an argument in favor of shutting down an important piece of the lineup and letting him get healthy for the rest of the season. The Mets are all but out of the playoff race and with all of the walk-year veterans having been traded away, the mathematical elimination is inevitable.
But the Mets “are not at that point yet,” said manager Buck Showalter.
“Do you want to go the whole offseason not knowing?” Showalter said. “I understand the argument both ways.”
Marte plans to get into rehab games at some point but he does not appear close to a rehab assignment.
“I think it will be favorable for me to do that and kind of catch my rhythm again,” he said through translator Alan Suriel. “I still have some work to do here. Then we can sit down and create a plan on what we’re going to do and where we’re going to go.”
Marte has been in the dugout during games and trying to work with some of the club’s emerging young players. His new daughter is healthy and doing well, as is his partner.
“She eats more than me,” he joked.
The decision could change, but for now, the plan is to proceed as if Marte will return before the calendar turns to October.
Right-handed reliever Sam Coonrod was finally activated off the IL after a lengthy rehab for a lat strain Monday afternoon, but the rest of the bullpen isn’t quite as healthy.
Coonrod took the spot of left-handed rookie Josh Walker on the roster after he was placed on the 15-day injured list with an oblique strain, retroactive to Sunday, Aug. 13. Right-hander John Curtiss was recalled and placed on the 60-day IL with a loose body in his right elbow. Curtiss has been up and down from Triple-A a few times this season, his first since returning from his second Tommy John surgery, which he underwent in 2021.
Right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis went unclaimed on waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse.