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Mets Closer Edwin Diaz Set to Return on Monday

After missing the entire 2023 season, Diaz will pitch on Monday evening against the Marlins.

The wait is over for the New York Mets.

For the first time since his injury in the World Baseball Classic, closer Edwin Diaz will take the mound and face major league hitters. Mets manager Carlos Mendoza confirmed that the electric right-hander will make his spring debut on Monday at Clover Park against the Miami Marlins, albeit with a limit of 20 pitches. 

"The fact that he gets to pitch in a major league game for the first time after a long year of rehab, I think, is important for all of us, obviously for him," Mendoza said in a press conference on Sunday. "We're excited to watch him pitch."

Last week, Diaz pitched in two simulated minor league games in the backfields; the first was on Tuesday, which saw him retire the side with a strikeout on 14 pitches, while the second was on Friday. 

"We asked him to stay out there for a fourth batter," Mendoza said after the latter appearance. "But he was good. His [velocity] was good. He executed some good sliders, so [he took] another good step in the right direction."

After the former appearance, Diaz told reporters that he was "100% ready", and was eager to face better competition.

"I just feel like I need competition. I'm 100% ready. I'm throwing my pitches like I want to," Diaz said on Tuesday. "I just need games, and today was really good. After my last live [BP] I told them I wanted to [raise] my level of competition, so I wanted to feel like I was in a real game."

Diaz tore his right patellar tendon on March 16, 2023 during the World Baseball Classic and was lost for the season. The Mets' bullpen struggled immensely without him, posting a collective ERA of 4.48.

But with Diaz nearing full strength, the Mets should like their chances of competing for a playoff spot if their star closer enjoys a fully healthy campaign.