NEW YORK -- Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer realized his "best-case scenario" on Wednesday, when an MRI showed no structural damage in the left knee that forced him out of Tuesday's game. Cuddyer received two injections in the joint -- "an oil change," as he put it -- and hopes to return to the lineup as soon as Thursday.
"I was real concerned when it happened because this guy never says boo," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He never says a word about anything at all. When I went down to look at him … and he had trouble bending his knee, I was nervous. So the news is finally some good news, a bright spot, instead of another guy on the 15-day DL."
Following his MRI, Cuddyer received a cortisone injection to reduce inflammation, as well as a second shot, which he described as a lubricant. The 36-year-old Cuddyer initially felt discomfort in his knee while running out a routine ground ball in the second inning Thursday. John Mayberry Jr. started in his place against the Cubs on Wednesday.
Perhaps providing a moral boost for the Mets, the news did nothing to erase the ugliness of Cuddyer's season to date: a .243 average and .297 on-base percentage in 72 games, including his current 5-for-43 (.116) funk. He did not buy into the theory that even a brief rest might help him clear his mind.
"I'm a competitor," Cuddyer said. "I want to be out there competing. I don't need time away from the game to clear anything. I take pride in being a professional, and going out there and doing my job. I'm not going to use this as a crutch, saying I need to get away from the game. I want to be out there. I want to be playing. I want to be competing. Which is why you take care of it, and get back out there as quick as you can."
For Cuddyer, that may be Friday in Los Angeles, if not Thursday in Queens. Whenever it occurs, Cuddyer hopes, his return will mark the beginning of a new and improved season.
"He's not hitting like we thought he might or like he wants to," Collins said. "I think he will. I think we're talking about a guy who missed the majority of last year, and who knows how many at-bats it's going to take to get back in the groove? I think he certainly will do it. But he brings some intangibles to our team that we need right now, and that's that calmness. As he gets it going, I hope he understands he's made a huge impact in other ways in that clubhouse."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.