Heartbroken Kevin Pillar opens up after ‘scary’ Mets incident

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Kevin Pillar walked into the Mets’ clubhouse Tuesday, a day after getting hit in the face with a 94.5 mph fastball, and asked if he was in the lineup.

Alas, as he told his manager Luis Rojas, “If I could see a little better, I’d be fighting about me being in the lineup today.”

Pillar still landed on the 10-day injured list Tuesday with multiple nasal fractures, but the outfielder appears to have avoided the worst from Monday’s scary incident that left both teams shaken after the game.

“I feel real good, actually. Despite not looking so good, I feel as close to normal as possible,” Pillar said Tuesday from Atlanta. “The only tough thing is my right eye a little bit right now is suffering from a little bit of swelling and I can’t really breathe out of my nose, but besides that I feel good. I feel lucky and I’m just kind of excited to start this recovery and get back doing what I like doing.”

Pillar, who left Monday’s game gushing blood and went to a local hospital to undergo a CT scan, said the fractures in his nose and the swelling were the extent of his injuries. He met with a plastic surgeon Tuesday to plan his recovery: once the swelling goes down, he’ll undergo surgery to set his nose back in place and then 10-14 days later, he could resume baseball activities.

The timeline figures to cost Pillar at least a month, but given how much worse the situation could have been — a few inches in any other direction, he noted, could have been a different story — he reiterated how “lucky” he got. Not that it didn’t pain him to be missing games for the already injury-plagued Mets, as he became their 13th player currently on the IL.

“My face will heal, but my heart’s broken right now because this team is hurting right now,” Pillar said. “I think at the end of my career, I hit .240, .250, whatever it is, I think if people talk about me as a guy that was reliable, was available and was tough as hell, that’s more than enough for me to ride off another sunset with.”

That sentiment was widely echoed Tuesday. It didn’t surprise Rojas or Braves manager Brian Snitker, who saw Pillar come up through the minor leagues, that the outfielder joked about playing the day after the incident.

“It was such a scary moment that it’s unbelievable he’s here and walking around,” Rojas said. “He’s a tough guy. I think the guys like that attitude around them.”

The Mets called up infielder Wilfredo Tovar to take Pillar’s spot on the roster and also bolstered their outfield depth by trading for veteran Cameron Maybin from the Cubs.

Jacob Webb, whose pitch hit Pillar, was visibly shaken on the mound Monday and still sounded like it Tuesday. He texted Pillar on Monday night to check on him and make sure he knew there was no intent behind the pitch — “the ball kind of just got away from me,” Webb said.

Upon returning to Truist Park on Tuesday, Pillar met with Webb and offered him words of encouragement.

“I’m almost more worried about him than I am myself because I know I saw his reaction and I know how tough that can be on someone who feels responsible for someone getting injured,” Pillar said.

But there were still plenty of people worried about Pillar, most notably his wife Amanda, who was watching live from California on Monday night. She contacted the Braves’ trainers — Pillar’s former trainers on the Blue Jays — before Pillar finally got a moment to call her and let her know he was OK.

“I think everyone — my family, my close friends, my inner circle — they know this is just a minor bump in the road,” Pillar said. “I pride myself on being tough and available. I’ll be all right.”

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