Invigorated Mets work through injuries
Club gaining momentum despite hobbled key players
LOS ANGELES -- All was well and, as they say, getting weller. The Mets had scored three times in the first inning, and Steve Trachsel had shown no lingering ill-effects from his extended layoff during his first two innings. Then, with Cliff Floyd on first base with two outs, Dodgers left fielder Marlon Anderson was awkwardly chasing Shawn Green's fly ball to the wall. Down went Anderson, and the ball ricocheted away ...
Just as everything seemed to be turning in the Mets' favor -- once again -- Saturday, Floyd rounded third base and felt a burn in his left Achilles tendon. How much more could go right for this team?
More adversity -- just what the Mets needed.
As their body count increases, it seems so do their chances of playing deep into October. The harder they fall, the bigger they are. If Pedro Martinez was missed, such as he was with two bad calves and a worse shoulder, it hardly was evident in the National League Division Series against the Dodgers.
And if the Mets were hurting as much as Orlando Hernandez's right calf, they camouflaged it well by sweeping the Wild Card winner out of the postseason.
So when Floyd's Achilles betrayed him in the third inning Saturday, it probably was just the Mets' way of preparing for their National League Championship Series opponent.
These Mets see a hurdle not as an obstacle, but as a reason to show how high they can jump. Somehow, they make subtraction look like addition. One step back prompts a dozen steps forward.
"Cliffy going down is just one more thing against us," David Wright said. "You hated to see it because he's Cliffy. He's a huge part of what we are. But it's something that we're just going to have to overcome. We've been pretty good at fighting back."
And Floyd himself, a mixture of delight and disappointment in the bedlam that followed the Mets' 9-5 victory in Game 3, reprised and revised his post-Game 1 battle cry.
"We're not going to let injuries to Pedro, Duquey and me ruin what we've done," Floyd said.
As he delivered those words, the left fielder was unsure whether the strained Achilles would, in fact, deny him a place in the NLCS. Eliminating the Dodgers with dispatch affords him and his mates three days free of games, three days of R&R -- rest and rehab. For him, it will be three days of ice that could lead to the NLCS being a rest-of-seven series, Cliffy on the rocks.
"I hope not," he said Saturday. "I want to help us get to the World Series."
In the back of his mind are the World Series and the designated hitter rule. For Floyd, it could morph into the DH role. But the Mets need four more victories before they can plot against the survivor of the American League tournament. The NLCS beckons first as another opportunity to deal with adversity. No Pedro, of course, but there will be a Pujols, or a problem. Just what the Mets want.
And there may be no Cliff to help them climb. But there is Endy Chavez, one of the primary additives in the Mets' high-octane resilience fuel. He and Floyd hardly play the same game. Floyd is power, while Chavez is speed and the Mets' best defensive player.
"Sometimes Endy's our best player," Floyd said. "The way he's played this year, we haven't missed a beat. We're not going to start now. Whoever we end up playing ... they may wish I was in there."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.