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Mets’ Starling Marte seeing light at end of tunnel in unprecedented 2023 season of injuries

Jun 15, 2023

QUEENS — Across Starling Marte’s first 10 full seasons in Major League Baseball, he played fewer than 129 games just once — and that came in 2017 when he was suspended 80 games for violating the league’s banned substance policy.

So this 2023 season has left the 24-year-old right fielder stranded in new territory, overwhelmed by injuries that have limited him to just 86 games this season.

The crux of his most prevalent issue, which currently has him on the 10-day injured list, is a right groin strain that occurred in the same area that he had surgery on during the offseason. While discomfort has lingered throughout the spring and well into summer, Marte has also contended with a neck injury sustained in April and migraines that landed him on the IL just last month.

“It’s been tough being out there after having a career where you’re pretty much playing every single day,” Marte said through an interpreter on Monday before the Mets’ series opener with the Pittsburgh Pirates. “Now with the situation that I’m in right now, I think the biggest value is for me to be there, be outside watching the game, and being a veteran leader talking to the younger guys and pointing out what they can do better and how to approach the game on a daily level.”

While he has begun light activity at Citi Field following an injection in the area last week, Marte won’t be ready to go by the time he is eligible to come off the IL on Wednesday. There is some solace in finally experiencing some positive developments around an area that has been providing so many problems over the last year.

“I feel a lot better now,” he said. “After I got the injection, the inflammation has gone down so I feel a lot better now.”

Marte added a few minor-league rehab games would be “favorable for me to do that to kind of catch my rhythm again,” but there has been no resolution on when that assignment will take place.

“We’re working out there right now and we hope that it’s soon,” he said. “I still have some work to do here and then we can sit down and create a plan on what we’re going to do.”

The two-time All-Star’s discomfort clearly translated into his play this season. After batting .292 with an .814 OPS, 16 home runs, and 63 RBI last season as the Mets’ bona fide No. 2 hitter, Marte has slashed .248/.301/.324 (.625 OPS) with five home runs and 28 RBI.

That inability to retain such a high level of play from 2022 has provided a major hole in a flawed Mets lineup this season as they rank 22nd in runs per game this year.

“I want to be back on the field,” Marte said. “I want to be there with my teammates and with my friends and to be able to do the best thing that I can possibly do, which is go out there and contribute to the team.”

Mets management could take the avenue of resting Marte for the remainder of the season to provide him with ample time to rest up and get back to 100% — a place he hasn’t been at in quite some time. However, getting Marte back and closer to a version of his past self could provide the club with a considerable boost heading toward the offseason.

“We wouldn’t play him unless he was [ready],” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “Hopefully, that happens for him mentally a little bit. We’re not at that point yet. It’s not easy for him… [Doctors] feel confident that we’ll be able to get him back [this year]. This has been a guy we haven’t really had at his level.”

Pantorno is the executive sports editor of amNewYork — a position he has held since January 2020. He covers the New York Mets and New York Islanders while overseeing day-to-day operations of the department.His previous stops include Bleacher Report and Metro New York while his work has been featured in the New York Post, Newsday, and Yahoo! Sports.

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