The start of the baseball season is less than a month away. Every weekday until opening day, we'll be counting down, from No. 20 to No. 1, the most important Mets players for the upcoming 2010 slate. Today, No. 19, reliever Kelvim Escobar.
It didn't take long for — once again — the Mets' eighth-inning solution to fall prey to an injury. The Mets probably should have seen it coming this time. Of course, at this point, you have to think they always see it coming.
Kelvin Escobar, awarded with a guaranteed $1.25 million contract despite pitching in only one game in 2009, is already headed to the disabled list: It's soreness in his shoulder, which is never good. The Mets hadn't expected him to be 100 percent for opening day anyway, but, certainly, signs aren't pointing up.
The eighth-inning bridge to Francisco "Pinkeye" Rodriguez has been a problem for almost four years now — pretty much ever since Yadier Molina sent an Aaron Heilman changeup deep into the Shea Stadium night — and Escobar, a sturdy presence in Anaheim's rotation until injuries hit, would be the ideal guy if right. But he's so rarely right. And he's certainly not right right now.
In other words: We're going to be receiving updates on Escobar's status for at least the next two months, and almost definitely longer. This is what the Mets signed up for when they went Dumpster diving for an injury risk. This is what they have. Everyone's very used to it.