Painful? Sure. But the veteran outfielder explained Tuesday — while somehow addressing the media with a mangled face — that the physical injuries paled in comparison to the heartbreak he felt knowing he wouldn’t be able to continue playing as the New York Mets squared off with the Atlanta Braves.
“I pride myself on being available,” Pillar told reporters Tuesday during a video conference. “So I think my immediate reaction was sadness — that I don’t know what the extent of what just happened was, and I know that I’m leaving a game, and I know we’ve already been shorthanded with injuries. It was frustrating. My initial reaction was to get up and go to first base. And as I was on the ground, I was bleeding a lot and I knew that this wasn’t normal — that this was more than just getting hit in the face, that there’s a lot of blood and that there’s no way to get to first base. Came back in the clubhouse and kinda had a moment to assess what happened. Saw the doctor and, without any X rays or anything, he told me, ‘Your nose is deformed, and it’s more than likely broken.’ And I had to take a moment to myself to just collect myself.
“I was sad. It wasn’t so much about the pain. It was just about the fact that this team has gone through a lot and, like I said, I pride myself on being available. I don’t always enjoy the results of going out there every single day, but I do enjoy the challenge of being available every day, I enjoy playing, and that’s the thing that hurts the most.
“My face will heal, but my heart’s broken right now, because this team’s hurting right now, and I came here, didn’t really know what my role was going to be and was gifted an opportunity to go out there and play every day. I don’t take that lightly, and it hurts.”
Check out Pillar’s full video conference below.
The scary incident occurred with the bases loaded in the seventh inning Monday. The pitch simply got away from Braves reliever Jacob Webb, striking Pillar directly in the face. Amazingly, Pillar walked off the field alongside a trainer, though not before a bloody scene that left both teams visibly rattled.
While Pillar looked beat up Tuesday and can’t really breathe from his nose, the 32-year-old said he otherwise feels “great” and hopes to return as soon as possible. It’s clear the situation could have been much, much worse, and Pillar therefore is in good spirits while embarking on his recovery.
The Mets placed Pillar on the 10-day injured list before Tuesday’s game in Atlanta. Fellow Mets outfielders Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto and Albert Almora also are on the IL, leaving New York thin as it looks to stay atop the National League East.
Pillar, a nine-year major league veteran, is in his first season with the Mets after signing as a free agent over the offseason. He’s also spent time with the Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies.