Mets’ Kevin Pillar has multiple nasal fractures after hit by pitch

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NEW YORK — New York Mets outfielder Kevin Pillar suffered multiple nasal fractures when he was hit in the face by a fastball from Braves reliever Jacob Webb, a frightening scene that shook both teams.

Pillar met Tuesday with a facial specialist in Atlanta to determine the next steps. He was placed on the 10-day injured list, but was at Truist Park to watch the second game of the series between the NL East rivals.

“It was such a scary moment,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “It 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 me to be in the lineup.”

Shortly after Rojas spoke, the Mets announced they had acquired veteran outfielder Cameron Maybin from the Chicago Cubs for cash. The 34-year-old Maybin had been in the minors this season and the Mets assigned him to Triple-A Syracuse.

Pillar was hit square in the nose by a 95 mph pitch from Webb with the bases loaded in the seventh inning Monday night.

Webb said he was trying to throw a high pitch to Pillar, but 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 reached out to Pillar, who responded that there were no hard feelings. The Mets player also provided an encouraging update on his Twitter account.

“Thanks to everyone that has reached out! Scary moment but I’m doing fine!” he posted.

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.

Wilfredo Tovar was selected from Triple-A 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 he’s 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.”

Starter Taijuan Walker also was forced to leave Monday’s 3-1 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 following 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. Ace starter Jacob deGrom already is on the IL, recovering from right side tightness.

Outfielder Michael Conforto and second baseman Jeff McNeil went on the 10-day IL with hamstring injuries.

“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.”

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.