Mets closer Edwin Díaz throws bullpen and hopes for return to mound this season

FILE - New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Díaz delivers against the San Diego Padres during the seventh inning of Game 2 of a National League wild-card baseball playoff series Oct. 8, 2022, in New York. After throwing his first outdoor bullpen session following knee surgery, Mets All-Star closer Díaz remained hopeful he can make return to the mound for the New York Mets this season. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

NEW YORK (AP) — After throwing his first outdoor bullpen following knee surgery, All-Star closer Edwin Díaz remained hopeful he can return to the mound for the New York Mets this season.

The 29-year-old right-hander tore his right patellar tendon on March 15 while celebrating after getting the final out of Puerto Rico's win over the Dominican Republic at the World Baseball Classic. The projected timeline for a return was six-to-eight months.

“My goal was to be ready in six months,” Díaz said Monday. “And I’m working on that.”

Díaz said he was clocked in the low-to-mid 90s on Sunday, when he threw from an outdoor bullpen mound to a catcher in the crouching position for the first time since getting hurt.

“I know my stuff is there,” Díaz said. “A main thing for me is how my knee is good and healthy. I feel healthy right now and I’m pitching again. I just want to get that positive note to go home and relax, work hard for next year.”

Mets manager Buck Showalter has been encouraged by Díaz’s progress but said it’s too early to determine whether a September return is possible. New York entered Monday last in the NL East and nine games out of a playoff spot.

“We’re waiting for the medical signoff, and then there will be a decision to be made,” Showalter said. “But that’s a good thing to think that he would be considered. It’d be really exciting for everybody. Whether or not we go down that road, we’re not there yet.”

Díaz had 64 saves and a 4.00 ERA for the Mets from 2019-21. Last season, he had 32 saves with a 1.31 ERA and struck out 118 in 62 innings. He agreed in November to a $102 million, five-year contract, a record deal for a closer.