Injuries are inevitable, but if the Marlins could have handpicked one player in camp to guarantee a healthy Spring Training, they would’ve gone with Víctor Víctor Mesa. That’s what makes Sunday’s incident especially frustrating, as Mesa was removed in the top of the sixth inning with a right hamstring strain, the team announced. His status is listed as day-to-day and he’ll be evaluated by a doctor in Jupiter on Monday.
The promising Cuban outfielder—widely regarded as the No. 2 prospect in the Marlins farm system—started as the designated hitter against the Pirates in Bradenton. He suffered the injury when hustling down the first-base line on a ground ball and making awkward contact with the bag, reaching safely on the force out at second. He was attended to by the medical staff, then left the field under his own power, walking gingerly.
Walked off the field on own power next to doc and player pic.twitter.com/EigYSaNASg— #TNM (@4self78) February 24, 2019
Non-roster invite Harold Ramírez replaced Mesa as a pinch-runner.
Miami rallied back from several deficits during the afternoon. A Dixon Machado RBI single in the ninth evened it up at 6-6. Ultimately, left-hander José Quijada surrendered a two-out, walk-off grand slam to Ke’Bryan Hayes, who also homered earlier in the game. It was a 10-6 final score and the Fish have dropped both of their Grapefruit League games so far.
Mesa debuted off the bench on Saturday and was 0-for-4 overall before the injury.
Following the loss, Mesa added his perspective (h/t Andre Fernandez, The Athletic):
#Marlins Victor Victor Mesa told reporters after today's game: “I was running very fast to (avoid) the double play and I felt pressure in my leg. Obviously, there was a small amount of pain, but I felt more pressure than pain in the muscle and hopefully I’ll be back very soon.”— Andre Fernandez (@FernandezAndreC) February 24, 2019
Manager Don Mattingly planned to play the 22-year-old frequently during Spring Training, especially early on while the veterans are taking it easy. As explained by Fernandez, Mesa hadn’t been in a competitive game since the 2017 World Baseball Classic nearly two full years prior (subscription required). The Marlins hosted him and his younger brother, Víctor Mesa Jr., for an MLB showcase last October. Shortly after that, they signed both international amateur free agents ($5.25 million and $1 million bonuses, respectively).
Mesa spent his offseason working out frequently with Víctor Jr. under the direction of strength and conditioning specialist Cesar Paublini. However, you cannot fully simulate game conditions without taking the field.
Typically, the recovery from a hamstring strain is measured in weeks, not days. Of course, we will wait for more information before speculating on the severity of Mesa’s injury.