New York Mets pitcher Edwin Diaz suffered a torn patellar tendon in his right knee shortly after a game in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) Wednesday. He is expected to miss the 2023 MLB season.

The Mets formally diagnosed the injury Thursday after conducting further medical imaging. Diaz signed a record-breaking five-year, $102 million deal with New York during the offseason. The star closer earned the save for Puerto Rico against the Dominican Republic and was celebrating with teammates when he suffered an injury to his right leg. He had to be carried off the field and put in a wheelchair.

While Diaz was being escorted off the field, his brother and WBC teammate, Alexis Diaz, could be seen crying. At the press conference, players on the Puerto Rican team repeatedly expressed sympathy for Diaz, understandably deflated despite a clinching a spot in the next round.

“Sugar (Diaz) is one of the glue guys in that clubhouse … he has a really big bank account but his heart is way bigger than his bank account,” second baseman Kike Hernandez told reporters. “He’s one of the really special human beings we’ve got in that clubhouse.”

Diaz’s injury immediately served as a flashpoint incident for many analysts and fans protesting the WBC, a professional event in which many MLB players compete in high-profile games beyond their contracted duties. These detractors have cited this injury, which could cost Diaz an entire MLB season, as a reason to change the format of the event or do away with it altogether.

Some analysts have assumed even stronger opinions about the WBC. Sports and political commentator Keith Olbermann has received criticism for his comments on Twitter, in which he called for the event to be ended immediately after injuries to Diaz and Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman, who is representing Canada.

“The WBC is a meaningless exhibition series designed to: get YOU to buy another uniform, to hell with the real season, and split up teammates based on where their grandmothers got laid,” Olbermann said.

In Diaz’s case, the injury was not related to in-game activity but instead seemed to occur as a result of a freak accident while celebrating. But in the lead-up to the WBC, many star pitchers in the league declined the invitation to compete, citing unnecessary strain and potential for injury as reasons to instead stay with their MLB teams for spring training.

Starting pitcher Max Scherzer, Diaz’s teammate in New York, explained earlier this week that he didn’t accept an invitation to play because he didn’t feel prepared to compete in the WBC environment.

“For me personally, I’m not ready to step into a quasi-playoff game right now, physically,” Scherzer said. “If I do that, I’m rolling the dice with my arm.”

In defense of the WBC, Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, MLB star outfielders who are representing the United States, said that the event has been one of their best experiences on a baseball field. They both said that they accepted risk by playing but offered glowing praise for the opportunity to represent their country on the world stage. The players also agreed that Diaz’s injury was not a result of the competition.

“That could happen to anybody at any given time, and you can always try and place blame on the WBC, but that’s just a freak accident,” Betts said.

With Puerto Rico’s victory over the Dominican Republic, thanks in part to Diaz’s save, the team clinched a position in the next round as the Pool D runner-up and will advance to play Mexico in the quarterfinal.

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