The Mets’ injury slew opened the door for Tommy Hunter
PORT ST. LUCIE — Tommy Hunter came into spring training as a likely fixture on the Mets bullpen, and the odds of him sticking have increased with the team’s recent string of injuries.
Most notably, Edwin Diaz is expected to miss the season.
Last week, Oca’s Sam Coonrod and Bryce Montes were also diagnosed with injuries that will put them on injured reserve to start the season.
Hunter, 36, is set for another opportunity after returning last year from career-threatening back surgery.
Diaz’s absence will result in a change of role in the bullpen, but Hunter doesn’t see use in high-leverage situations as a necessity for him.
“I like being the first out of the bullpen,” Hunter said Saturday. “Fifth [inning], fourth sometimes, I don’t mind. I’m good at that. I don’t know how else to say it. Sometimes waiting for the end of the game is hard. That’s why you see guys who don’t come out in the bullpen until the fifth or sixth inning. More often than not, I have to be there and ready to go.
It’s that feeling of humility that has made Hunter one of Buck Showalter’s favorites since their split time with the Orioles from 2011 to 2015.
Last season, Hunter played 18 games for the Mets after being signed to a minor league midseason contract and pitching to a 2.42 ERA. He agreed to another minor league contract with the Mets after the season.
“I love what I do and [Showalter] knows what I do pretty well,” Hunter said. “I trust him and I’m not afraid.”
David Peterson is expected to start and be followed by Tylor Megill for four innings each on Sunday in a backhand appearance.
The two are competing for the opening slot in the Mets rotation created by Jose Quintana’s absence — the southpaw is expected to miss at least half the season after undergoing a bone graft on his left fifth rib on Friday.
Megill and Peterson are having strong seasons in the Grapefruit League.
The right-hander Megill has thrown a 1.08 ERA in three appearances this spring.
Southpaw Peterson hasn’t allowed an earned run in three appearances, spanning eight innings.
The Mets opted for Ronny Mauricio and Joey Lucchesi at Triple-A Syracuse. Abraham Almonte and Jaylin Davis were reassigned to minor league camp.
Team bonding activity is the order of the day Sunday night, when the Mets gather for a crawfish boil hosted by Max Scherzer.
Earlier this month, the Mets hosted a talent show that received largely positive reviews.