Mets manager Luis Rojas was not ready Jan. 25 to definitively say RHP Edwin Diaz would be the team's closer, but the fifth-year reliever is preparing for whatever comes his way in 2020.
Ahead of Year 2 in New York after what was a disappointing 2019 debut, going 2-7 with a 5.59 ERA and 99 strikeouts against 22 walks and four hit batsmen in 58.0 innings pitched over 66 appearances, he's prepared to bounce back.
"Once last season ended, that was last season," Diaz told SNY's Steve Gelbs through Mets communications assistant and Spanish language translator Alan Suriel in an interview Wednesday. "So what I did, I took the positives from that season, I brought that with me, left all the negative in the back and I just try to continue to stay positive and I put a lot of work in to have a good season this year."
A coveted piece from the Dec. 3, 2018, blockbuster trade with the Seattle Mariners that brought 2B Robinson Cano to the Mets, Diaz has been open about his struggles but believes he's made corrections.
"I was able to make adjustments to my mechanics -- that's really what I was really focusing on," Diaz told Gelbs through Suriel. "I took a short vacation right after the season with my family, and right after that, I started to really got into a lot of work with my mechanics, with my body -- mentally, physically -- just so I could come in this spring and feeling like I was really ready to go."
With help from 2015 Baseball Hall of Fame RHP Pedro Martinez (1992-09), a former Met himself (2005-08), Diaz made tweaks to his delivery as he sought to clean things up.
"There weren't very significant changes," Diaz told Gelbs through Suriel. "It was about trying to release the ball in front of me and working on my release point because there were things in my mechanics that were fine, but there were just little tweaks Pedro told me about it. Also, the pitching coaches told me. So it wasn't anything too signifcant, but there were things to work on."
Having established a relationship with Martinez since Diaz made his MLB debut June 6, 2016, he's relied on the eight-time All-Star over the past four years.
"I've known Pedro since I debuted in 2016 -- he wanted to meet me, so we ended up meeting," Diaz told Gelbs through Suriel. "And once we actually started working, another guy that I was working with was a guy that Pedro worked with while he was with the (Montreal) Expos (1994-97), with the (Los Angeles) Dodgers (1992-92), with the (Boston) Red Sox (1998-04). So we were kind of able to get into that communication. We would send each other videos, stay in constant communication so we could actually get things going."
A first-time All-Star in 2018 with the Mariners, Diaz's 2019 was a down year, but he ended his first Mets season better. Since Sept. 8, Diaz pitched to a 3.00 ERA with 10 strikeouts to two walks, allowing three hits (one home run) on two runs (both earned) over 6.0 innings. Diaz expects more out of himself in 2020 and he has the next month to present his case at Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
"My confidence this year is at 100 percent," Diaz told Gelbs through Suriel. "And my confidence last year, despite having a bad season, it never really wavered because I know the type of pitcher that I am. But knowing the way that I prepared this offseason, and knowing everything I did to be a better pitcher, I think you guys are going to see the Edwin Diaz that you waited for."