Mets pitcher Robert Gsellman out for season after fracturing rib

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NEW YORK — When Robert Gsellman exited Tuesday’s 11-2 loss against the Orioles in the eighth inning, the Mets’ initial understanding of the situation was less severe than the result. Manager Luis Rojas originally said Gsellman was dealing with a left oblique injury. When the skipper received an early morning call Wednesday, he was shocked to learn the diagnosis was worse.

Gsellman was placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday with a fractured rib. Right-handed reliever Drew Smith was called up from the team’s alternate site in Brooklyn to replace him.

“I was actually really, really surprised because it’s a rare injury,” Rojas said on Wednesday. “Last night we thought it was the oblique. We left thinking it was the oblique.”

Rojas said Gsellman was “moving better” and “walking around” after Tuesday’s game as signs of improvement. Gsellman left his relief appearance upon suffering what looked like brutal and serious pain. The right-hander allowed his sixth run against the Orioles on an RBI single to Jose Iglesias and then immediately hunched over. Rojas and head trainer Brian Chicklo checked on Gsellman and he could only walk a few steps before stopping to put his hands on his knees. Eventually, he walked into the dugout.

The Mets did not make Gsellman available for comment.

“Last night, he was emotional,” Rojas said. “Obviously, it was a tough season for him in those two ways, health-wise and performing-wise. We wish G to a prompt recovery and he can come back healthy, strong, and come back and perform like we know he can.”

The right-hander ends his 2020 season after a year in which very little went right for the pitcher. He began the shortened season on the IL with right triceps tightness before returning on Aug. 7. The following day, he pitched a clean inning against the Marlins in his season debut, and Rojas noted his stuff looked “electric” that night. Immediately, the Mets stretched Gsellman out so he could slide into the rotation while Michael Wacha and David Peterson landed on the IL.

Gsellman struggled in all but one of his four starts. He held the Yankees to one run in four innings — by far his longest outing — at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 29. But he compiled an 8.68 ERA in 9.1 innings as a starter. Once Wacha and Peterson returned, and Seth Lugo successfully transitioned to the rotation, the Mets moved Gsellman back to the bullpen. His first appearance since shifting back to the ‘pen came Tuesday, when the O’s pummeled him for six runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings.

“It’s just an unfortunate loss for us,” Rojas said. “G has had a lot of adversities this year, this season — coming into the season starting on the IL, catching up, going to the starting rotation and not being up to the level where we wanted him to perform. Finishing his season like this is definitely a tough one.”

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Major League Baseball announced Puerto Rican players had the option of wearing No. 21 on Wednesday in honor of Roberto Clemente. Three Mets players chose to wear No. 21 for their game against the Orioles: closer Edwin Diaz, Lugo (who is one-fourth Puerto Rican) and bullpen coach Ricky Bones.

“He was a tremendous inspiration for all of us in Puerto Rico,” Diaz said through interpreter Alan Suriel. “He did a lot on the field, but he did even more off the field. He was an idol for all of us in Puerto Rico and we aspired to be just like him growing up.”

Clemente was posthumously elected into the Hall of Fame on March 20, 1973 — less than three months after his plane crashed off the coast of San Juan. He was on a trip to Nicaragua to help deliver aid to victims of an earthquake. The MVP, 12-time Gold Glove winner, and 15-time All-Star died at age 38 after 18 years playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Steven Matz was nominated by the Mets for the third year in a row for the Roberto Clemente award, which recognizes a player from each team who went above and beyond in his philanthropic efforts. Matz donated $32,000 to COVID-19 relief efforts from his TRU32 Foundation earlier this year.

“It would be a tremendous honor if they did retire the No. 21,” Diaz said. MLB retired Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 on April 15, 1997.

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