New York Mets outfielder Kevin Pillar suffered multiple nasal fractures Monday night when he was hit in the face by a fastball from Atlanta Braves reliever Jacob Webb, a frightening scene that shook both teams.
Pillar made everyone feel a lot better when he brought out the lineup card before Tuesday night’s game.
Pillar was at Truist Park after meeting with a facial specialist to determine the next steps in his recovery.
“I feel good. I feel real good, actually. Despite not looking so good, I feel as close to normal as possible,” Pillar told reporters before the Mets’ 4-3 win. “The only tough thing is my right eye is suffering from a little bit of swelling, and I can’t really breathe out of my nose. But besides that, I feel good and I feel lucky and excited to get on this recovery and get back to what I love doing.”
The 32-year-old veteran was placed on the 10-day injured list before the second game of the series between the National League East rivals.
“It was such a scary moment,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “It’s unbelievable that he’s here and walking around.”
While Pillar is expected to be out for an extended period, he jokingly told Rojas that if “he could see a little better, he’d be fighting with [Rojas] to be in the lineup.”
“That’s the thing that hurts the most. My face will heal, but my heart’s broken right now because this team is hurting right now,” Pillar said. “I was gifted an opportunity to play every day, and I can’t do that and it hurts.”
As it was, Pillar brought out the Mets’ lineup for the exchange at home plate with Braves coach Walt Weiss and the four umpires.
Even with a bruised and badly swollen face, with a small pad stuffed into his right nostril, Pillar smiled and shook everyone’s hands. Weiss gave him a warm pat on the shoulder.
Pillar’s presence was a boost for the Mets.
“As soon as he walked in, it lifted everybody’s spirits up,” catcher Tomas Nido said. “Seeing him here to support us, that’s a true leader.”
Pillar was hit square on the nose by a 95 mph pitch from Webb with the bases loaded in the seventh inning Monday night.
Pillar said there were no hard feelings toward Webb. In fact, he expressed concern for the Braves pitcher.
“I know this guy didn’t want to hit me, didn’t want to hit me in the face,” Pillar said. “Accidents do happen. I know he feels bad. Me and him talked last night and today. I’m almost more worried about him than I am myself.”
Webb said he was attempting to throw a high pitch to Pillar but that the ball simply got away from him in the delivery.
“I wasn’t trying to hit him,” the pitcher said, still clearly affected a day after the incident. “It definitely came out of my hand weird. I knew right away when I threw it. I felt it.”
Webb’s knees buckled after the pitch struck Pillar. In the dugout later, Braves coaches Kevin Seitzer and Rick Kranitz both had lengthy conversations with the pitcher, trying to help him cope with his guilt.
“I saw his reaction,” Pillar said. “I know how tough that can be on someone to feel responsible for someone getting injured. I tried to relay that message to him. I know it was unintentional. He needs to continue to be confident in himself and his stuff. I’ll be fine.”
Pillar was knocked to the ground, and blood poured from his nose when he lifted his head. After the game, the veteran outfielder was taken to the hospital for a CT scan, which showed no serious damage.
In need of outfielders with Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto and Albert Almora also on the injured list, the Mets acquired veteran outfielder Cameron Maybin from the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday in exchange for cash considerations. Maybin, a career .256 hitter in 14 major league seasons, was in Triple-A for the Cubs this season. New York assigned him to Triple-A Syracuse.
In the meantime, infielder Wilfredo Tovar was selected from Syracuse to fill Pillar’s spot on the roster. Catcher Deivy Grullon was designated for assignment.
Webb said his only concern was Pillar’s health.
“Obviously, I’m thinking about him,” Webb said. “I injured the guy. It’s definitely tough moving forward. It’s just something you’ve got to get out of your mind and go back to doing your thing. But my main concern was making sure he’s all right.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker said he would likely give Webb a day or two off before sending him back to the mound but that he is counting on the right-hander to move past the frightening incident.
“The next time he gets the call to come in and pitch, you just have to do it,” Snitker said. “You’ve got to make a living. Those things happen. You hate it. But you’ve got to get right back out there if you get the opportunity.”
New York starter Taijuan Walker also was forced to leave Monday’s win over the Braves, joining a long list of injured Mets players. Walker pitched only three innings, allowing one hit and no runs, before exiting with tightness in his left side.
Rojas said the Mets got an encouraging report on Walker after an MRI.
“The MRI came back clean. He feels great today,” the manager said. “They’re going to watch video and pay attention to his mechanics to see if there’s anything causing him to tighten up during the outing. From outing to outing, it’s no issue. We’re just going to take it day by day.”
The injuries to Walker and Pillar came after the Mets added two regulars to the injured list on Monday. Conforto and second baseman Jeff McNeil went on the 10-day IL with hamstring injuries.
Ace starter Jacob deGrom already was on the IL, recovering from right side tightness.
“It’s going to be a week-to-week approach,” Rojas said. “We’ll just see how they respond to the different treatments they get.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.