MARCH 7: Fortunately, it seems Mercado has avoided serious injury. The MRI revealed a “mild sprain,” tweets Zack Meisel of the Athletic. He’s currently day-to-day.
MARCH 6: Indians center fielder Oscar Mercado will undergo an MRI on his left wrist after injuring it while making a diving catch in yesterday’s Cactus League game, the team revealed to reporters (Twitter link via Mandy Bell of MLB.com). Mercado laid out to catch a shallow fly in center field and immediately came up clutching his wrist (video link). He immediately exited the game in obvious pain. The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd tweets that Mercado will be evaluated by hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, and an update will likely be provided tomorrow.
Mercado, 25, broke out with a strong rookie campaign in 2019, cementing himself as Cleveland’s center fielder with a .269/.318/.443 batting line, 15 home runs, 25 doubles, three triples and 15 steals. Mercado played a well above-average center field by virtually any available metric (+10 Defensive Runs Saved, +2.8 Ultimate Zone Rating, +5 Outs Above Average). While there’s been plenty of ink dedicated to the uncertainty in the Indians’ corner outfield slots, Mercado’s grip on the center field job has never been in question.
Should the Indians receive bad news, their acquisition of Delino DeShields Jr. in the Corey Kluber trade will give them an experienced center field option to plug in on a short-term basis. DeShields can’t match Mercado’s offensive production — he’s a career .246/.326/.342 hitter (76 wRC+) — but is a similarly well-regarded defender with even more speed to burn. Fellow speedster Greg Allen also has ample experience in center field, too.
Injuries have been an issue for Cleveland early in camp, as Mike Clevinger has undergone knee surgery and Emmanuel Clase (acquired alongside DeShields in the aforementioned Kluber swap) will miss up to 12 weeks after being diagnosed with a strained teres major.