Sep 24

Are Mets Making A Medical Mistake With Zack Wheeler?

When it comes to injuries, will the New York Mets ever learn? Zack Wheeler has been shut down for the season after complaining of shoulder stiffness last weekend in Philadelphia.

Smart move.

However, Wheeler was examined only by an on-call doctor at the park in Philly, and as of now hasn’t been examined by Mets’ doctors. So far, no MRI.

After what happened with Matt Harvey, who is facing Tommy John surgery after a sore forearm was neglected, one would think the Mets would take a cue.

Usually, teams give their players physicals after the season, along with conditioning and rehab programs. Hopefully, Wheeler will get a full exam, including a MRI.

Personally, I believe all pitchers should receive a MRI after each season just to check the wear-and-tear on the arm.

Who knows if such a step were taken that the Mets might have known about Jeremy Hefner, who had Tommy John surgery.

The Mets were careless with Harvey, and the pitcher didn’t help himself by pitching with discomfort. They were also reckless with Jenrry Mejia, and let him pitch with bone spurs, even though they had him scheduled for surgery in the offseason.

I certainly hope Wheeler was paying attention this summer.

The Mets’ medical practices have long been criticized, and rightfully so. When Sandy Alderson was hired CEO Jeff Wilpon said there would be a new culture, and that included a change in the handling of injured players.

The route from when the injury occurred to how it was initially handled – first by the trainers and then the medical staff – and rehab after surgery would all be examined.

It has mostly been the same old story.

Now, after Harvey, we learn Wheeler’s sore shoulder was examined not by a Mets’ doctor, but an on-call physician at the park in Philadelphia.

And, instead of going back to New York for a MRI, he was allowed to dress up as a bride in the team’s annual rookie hazing.

Memo to Wheeler: You’re in the major leagues and have a sore shoulder. The honeymoon is over.

If the Mets won’t do it for you, then get your own MRI. It’s your future. Take care of it.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 17

Matt Harvey Opts For Rehab Over Surgery; Mets Must Prepare To Not Have Him

The New York Mets haven’t said anything on Matt Harvey not having to undergo surgery other than it is his decision. Multiple news agencies report Harvey will opt for rehabilitation over surgery after getting a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews Monday in Alabama.

The plan is to rehab for up to two months to see how his elbow responds. After that, he’ll have another MRI, and then possibly opt for surgery at that time.

HARVEY: Taking a gamble.

HARVEY: Taking a gamble.

Whether he has surgery now or in two months, Harvey won’t be available until 2015.

Surgery, of course, has no guarantees, but neither does rehab. If I were Harvey, I’d have the surgery and be done with the issue. But, I am not, and I understand it is his decision on his career.

If he has it now, there could be a possibility of him being ready next September. Wouldn’t it be great to have him activated and help them compete for a wild card?

The risk Harvey is taking is not feeling discomfort in November, and making a decision based on that information. He will not be throwing under game conditions. So, if he’s ready to start the season, that’s great, but the gamble is he’ll stay healthy the entire season.

What if he doesn’t? What if there’s more pain and he further tears his ulnar collateral ligament? If he re-injures the elbow and has surgery next summer he would miss the rest of the 2014 season and all of 2015.

That adds another year to when he won’t be pitching.

I understand Harvey’s competitive nature and desire to pitch. It is admirable. I don’t believe he’s being selfish, but I wonder if he’s seeing the entire picture about potential lost time. Although there are no givens in surgery, the odds have greatly improved for undergoing the Tommy John procedure.

Whatever route Harvey chooses in two months the Mets must make starting pitching their priority, even over an outfield bat. Currently, the Mets are looking at their 2014 rotation consisting of Dillon Gee, the staff leader in victories; Zack Wheeler, who’ll be on an innings limit; and Jon Niese, who had his own injuries this year.

Jenrry Mejia underwent surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow. Noah Syndergaard will not be ready to start next season and Rafael Montero is questionable. The Mets can’t count on Montero to make the team coming out of spring training.

So, that leaves two starters to find for next year. We can safely say Shaun Marcum won’t be an option.

For all the talk of adding a power hitting outfielder and the Mets’ other voids, any chance they have for a winning season is dependent on their pitching. It has been that way for 100 years, and nothing has changed.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 14

Familia Activated From Disabled List

Jeurys-Familia

The Mets announced that RHP Jeurys Familia will rejoin the team in time for their doubleheader today against the Marlins.

After undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow last June, Familia has worked hard to get himself back to the big-league team. Going forward, Familia has put himself in line for a significant role in our 2014 bullpen.

During his string of rehab games in the minors, the young righty has pitched well, allowing just one earned run in 12.0 innings of work with a handful of strikeouts.

He looked really sharp for Savannah down the stretch, powering through a scoreless inning in yesterday’s big win with two punch-outs as the Sand Gnats became the South Atlantic League champions.

It is my hope that Familia settles down and hones his control so he can become a very successful reliever. Familia always projected more down the line as a bullpen guy in comparison to Jenrry Mejia, who had a better natural arsenal and command of his secondary pitches. Delegating Familia to a relief role is by no means a knock on him and he should be competing with Vic Black for a spot at the back-end of the bullpen.

I’ve always liked his stuff and reports are that he’s still bringing the heat with late life since he started pitching in games again. Now, he’ll have a couple of weeks to get a leg-up on the competition for next year’s ‘pen.

Sep 05

Mets Should Already Have Several 2014 Answers In Place

The New York Mets say they are using September to gather information for their 2014 preparation.

All clubs not printing playoff tickets are doing the same. However, if the Mets were truly honest, you must believe they already have several answers:

Terry Collins: Quit the suspense, just announce it already that he’s returning. Based on what he’s been given, he’ll get another year. Maybe two.

COLLINS: He's coming back.

COLLINS: He’s coming back.

Ike Davis: After several years of non-production, interrupted by last season’s strong second half, and power drought following his return from Las Vegas, the Mets must know what direction they are leaning. GM Sandy Alderson said the roundtable discussions pertaining to Davis would occur after the season, but they must know the strapping first baseman will not be tendered a contract.

Daniel Murphy: Despite their posturing with Wilmer Flores and others, the Mets know replacing Murphy is not high on their priority list. The Mets’ needs far outweigh finding another second baseman.

Ruben Tejada: They’ll bring him to spring training, but if they were smart it would be with a one-strike policy. It’s one thing to have a poor season, but it’s another to have an “I don’t care,’’ attitude to go along with it. If Tejada doesn’t care, than neither should the Mets.

Wilmer Flores: With his shortstop range suspect, but how would we really know, since they never tried him there, what’s up with Flores? The organization has to know first base is where he should land.

Travis d’Arnaud: They got a picture of their future catcher, but it was a postcard, not a panoramic view. However, it was large enough for them to trade John Buck. Even so, they’ll likely bring in a veteran catcher.

Eric Young: He solved their leadoff spot vacancy, and that’s reason enough to bring him back. The team never looked so alive as when Young was running the bases.

Juan Lagares: In the absence of signing a power bat in the outfield, Lagares will start next season. The question is whether center or right? Matt den Dekker is better defensively in center, but him, Lagares and Young produce little power. Outside of Young, the only outfield certainty is it won’t include Lucas Duda.

Matt Harvey: Despite Harvey’s wishful thinking, the Mets know he won’t be in their rotation. They can’t push Harvey to surgery because that would be bad form, but deep down they know.

Zack Wheeler: They know they got a good one in Wheeler. Presumably, they already know they will monitor his innings. Unlike how they handled Harvey, they should already have a plan in place, and it should be to skip one start a month. That puts him at 28 for the season and a potential savings of 54 innings.

The rotation: Adding a veteran starter or two is essential. Daisuke Matsuzaka will not be an option. They should also have a tentative timetable in place to promote Rafael Montero. They had one for Harvey and Wheeler; Montero will be the same.

Jenrry Mejia: Considering his effectiveness as a starter, and now the void in that role, Mejia needs to go back to starting after he’s recovered from surgery.

The bullpen: Again, they know there will be an overhaul as LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Atchison and perhaps Pedro Feliciano won’t be back.

It will be another long winter, but the Mets should already have their plan in place.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Sep 02

Mets Need Injury Treatment Overhaul

There are several things the New York Mets must evaluate and re-evaluate this off-season, and at the top of the list is their handling of injuries, with the latest being Jon Niese cramping up on a hot and humid night.

Niese already missed time this season with a shoulder injury, and he’s just one in a long line. Matt Harvey is out for the year with a slight tear in his UCL; David Wright is on the DL with a hamstring; Jenrry Mejia had surgery to remove bone spurs; Ike Davis has a strained oblique and could be done for the season; Jeremy Hefner had a similar injury as Harvey; Zack Wheeler had a strained oblique in spring training; Bobby Parnell could require surgery in the offseason on his neck; Ruben Tejada and Lucas Duda each when on the disabled list, then sentenced to the minor leagues.

NIESE: One of many Mets injured in 2013.

NIESE: One of many Mets injured in 2013.

No team goes unscathed during a season, but the appearance is perhaps the Mets have more than most.

Why?

The initial report is Niese cramped on a hot and humid night. Sounds plausible, but with a steady taking of salt tablets and water it could have been preventable. Blame? The trainers need to stay on top of things, but the player must also be diligent.

Maybe both parties were and this was a freaky thing. But, the Mets should monitor to find out. Records could be taken of water and salt intake, just for the preventative research.

Already we know the Mets forced the issues with Harvey, Wright and Mejia, and that must stop. All arm injuries need to be addressed immediately, and with a MRI, because the Mets proved this is a major mishandling.

Hamstring and oblique tightness, as in the cases of Wright and Davis, need to come with immediate days off and treatment. For Wright to play an extra week before his popped is inexcusable, and player, training staff, manager and management must have some culpability.

Do better records need to be kept? Is the initial handling and treatment done correctly? Do the players withhold too much information for fear of losing their job? Are the rest periods too short? Should time on the disabled list be longer?

Do the players lift weights too much, and is there always a monitor for them? In weight lifting, is the weight lifted and repetitions recorded and tracked? Should their lifting be decreased later in the season? Do the players know that just showing up and lifting isn’t the proper procedure?

Are they too tight from the lifting? Should there be more stretching, even yoga, implemented in their routine? There have been cases where football teams have their players train in ballet to loosen the muscles … hey, you never know, is this something that could work?

Whatever the case, part of reaching the next level and taking care of business is staying healthy. This is an area where the Mets promised a new culture, and it is vital it be done.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos