Wed Aug 17 6:40pm ET
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
Brooklyn Cyclones infielder Brett Baty (22) fields at third during a minor league baseball game against the Aberdeen IronBirds, Tuesday, May 25, 2021 in New York. The IronBirds won 8-1. (AP Photo/Vera Nieuwenhuis)
New York Mets manager Buck Showalter, right, talks with pitcher Jacob deGrom before the team's baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
New York Mets manager Buck Showalter watches from the dugout during the fourth inning of the team's baseball game against the Atlanta Braves on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
New York Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker delivers to an Atlanta Braves batter during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
ATLANTA (AP) The New York Mets called up top prospect Brett Baty on Wednesday to fill in at third base for ailing Eduardo Escobar, putting the 22-year-old in the middle of a spirited race for the NL East title.
Plagued by a sore left oblique, Escobar was placed on the 10-day injured list before the division-leading Mets faced the team that's chasing them, World Series champion Atlanta.
Baty was in the lineup for his major league debut, batting eighth. He was called up to the big leagues just a week after being promoted to Triple-A Syracuse.
''It wasn't on my mind at all,'' Baty said. ''I was just thinking about winning ballgames for Syracuse. But now I'm here, so it's about winning ballgames for the New York Mets.''
Escobar was scratched from the lineup for Tuesday's game after working out on the field before batting practice. Manager Buck Showalter said Escobar's injury had taken a turn for the worse and he didn't want to risk a long-term issue.
Escobar went on the IL, retroactive to Tuesday, clearing the way for Baty to join the club.
The No. 12 overall pick in the 2019 draft, Baty was hitting a combined .315 with 19 homers and 60 RBIs for Double-A Binghamton and Syracuse.
His offensive numbers - especially his power - have greatly improved this season over his first two years in the minors.
''I'm not putting any expectations on myself,'' Baty said. ''I'm just gonna go out there and play to the best of my ability. I'm here for a reason. I'll let it show and do my best out there.''
Baty, who's from Round Rock, Texas, said his mother, father, sister and several other relatives had flown to Atlanta for his big league debut.
Showalter got a chance to work with Baty in spring training. He challenged the youngster a few times, eager to see how he would react to what the manager coyly called ''constructive criticism.''
Baty passed that test.
''I trust the way I play baseball, and I trust myself out on the field,'' the rookie said. ''They were getting on me, but I was kind of responding.''
Center fielder Brandon Nimmo pulled Baty aside after the team arrived at Truist Park. He knows the highly touted player will be facing intense scrutiny joining a first-place team that's trying to claim its first division title since 2015.
''Nimmo just took me aside and he was like, `Hey, man, slow it down. It's gonna be a pretty big atmosphere for sure. But we all trust you out there. We have your back,''' Baty said. ''That's what I wanted to hear.''
In other injury developments, pitcher Taijuan Walker underwent an MRI after lasting two innings in his start Tuesday because of back spasms.
Walker may not be able to make his next scheduled start Sunday at Philadelphia, but it doesn't appear he'll be out for an extended period, according to Showalter.
The Mets couldn't afford another blow to their rotation after 13-game winner Carlos Carrasco also lasted two innings Monday before departing with a strained left oblique. He was placed on the IL and is expected to miss up to a month.
''Pretty good news, all things considered,'' Showalter said of Walker. ''His Sunday start is in jeopardy, but we're still holding out hope it manages before that. We've got some different thoughts'' about who might step in if Walker can't go.
The Mets designated reliever R.J. Alvarez for assignment after he gave up three runs in 2 1/3 innings in a 5-0 loss to the Braves on Tuesday - his first appearance in the big leagues since 2015. Lefty Sam Clay was called up from Syracuse.