Feb 28

Jon Niese Injury Raises Questions

It was interesting to hear Jonathon Niese take responsibility for his setback, but his comments raised questions as to how the New York Mets handled his injury.

NIESE: Injury raises questions. (AP)

NIESE: Injury raises questions. (AP)

Niese’s MRI revealed scapula-muscle weakness in the back of his left shoulder.

How did this happen?

Niese missed two months last season with a rotator-cuff strain, but returned to pitch late in the year.

Before the offseason, I asked Niese his off-season plans and he said he would get a workout routine from the trainers and concentrate on strengthening his shoulder. Sounded reasonable.

Today, Niese told ESPN in Port St. Lucie he worked on the rotator cuff area, but neglected the area in the back part of the shoulder leading to an imbalance of strength and caused his shoulder blade to be tugged at an awkward angle.

Often with an arm injury a pitcher overcompensates, which leads to another problem.

“The MRI revealed that my shoulder this year is actually better than it was last year,’’ Niese said. “[Mets physician Dr. David Altchek] said everything was healed and everything was clean.

“It’s just the fact that there are little weak spots. I kind of blame that on myself. Last year, with it being the rotator cuff, this off-season that’s pretty much all I was working on. I neglected the other things. So everything was at an imbalance. That’s when I started having the shoulder-pinching issues and discomfort.’’

This leads to several questions:

* Was Niese instructed to work on that area of the shoulder and just didn’t? If so, why? Surely, he has to be smart enough not to ignore rehab instructions.

* Did the doctors not tell and show Niese how to work those muscles? One would think they would have.

* Was Niese rushed back too soon last season and developed bad habits that carried over to his off-season throwing? If so, it wouldn’t have been the first time a Met was rushed back.

* Are Niese’s mechanics the same as they were prior to the injury, and if so, why wasn’t this caught by pitching coach Dan Warthen? Everything is on tape, so it’s a wonder why it was missed if that’s the case.

* Niese said he would get a workout routine from a physical therapist, leading to speculation he wasn’t given that series of exercises. If so, why not?

The Mets have been frequently criticized for their handling of injuries. While it might be premature to make that accusation in this case, there is cause to wonder.

Feb 27

Mets Wrap: Niese MRI Negative; Syndergaard Stars

The New York Mets, a team starving for good news, received some Thursday when left-hander Jon Niese’s MRI on his left shoulder came back negative.

Niese is expected to resume throwing this weekend, but his exhibition start scheduled for Tuesday will be pushed back.

Above all else, Niese received a scare that should tell the Mets starting pitching is fragile and they should be careful before they consider dealing what they have.

In addition:

Noah Syndergaard struck out five in two innings of an intrasquad game. He’s scheduled to make his first exhibition start Monday against Atlanta.

Eric Young, who has a strained side muscle, could be held out this weekend.

Bartolo Colon could throw Friday. Colon has a strained calf muscle and spent the day working out on a stationary bike.

* General manager Sandy Alderson said 90 victories is possible, reported The New York Daily News.

 

Feb 27

Jon Niese MRI Is Clean; Incident A Reminder Of Pitching Fragility

The New York Mets received good news Thursday when the MRI on Jon Niese’s pitching shoulder came back clean. Most times when a pitcher complains of a dead arm as Niese did, the issue is more weakness than injury, which is the diagnosis here.

This was the best possible news for the Mets, who have plenty of issues already without having to worry about losing their No. 1 starter.

This was a scare to be sure, but what it also serves as is a reminder starting pitching is scarce, meaning they better be careful if they are considering dealing a starter, even on the minor level, for shortstop Nick Franklin.

Reportedly, Seattle is asking for starting pitching for Franklin, an infielder who became expendable with the Mariners’ signing of Robinson Cano. The Mets turned down trade overtures for Niese in the past, but this time he wasn’t on the Mariners’ wish list.

Niese was examined Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan after complaining of shoulder soreness the day after throwing batting practice. He wanted the exam for his peace of mind because he missed two months last season with a partially torn rotator cuff.

Niese will miss his first exhibition start, Tuesday against Houston, but could resume throwing this weekend.

Manager Terry Collins said Niese will be the Mets’ Opening Day starter, and didn’t back off that Wednesday.

ON DECK: Intrasquad game.

 

Feb 26

Jon Niese To Get MRI On Shoulder

Let’s face it, it wouldn’t be a normal New York Mets spring training without an injury – specifically to a pitcher.

Jonathon Niese is the latest and was sent to New York today for a MRI after complaining of pain in his left shoulder.

NIESE: Has MRI. (AP)

NIESE: Has MRI. (AP)

“I wanted to keep it quiet,’’ Niese told reporters in Port St. Lucie, ironically just two days after manager Terry Collins said he wants his players to disclose injuries. “It’s just a precautionary thing to make sure it’s not worse from last year. I just want peace of mind.’’

Specifically, Niese said his arm felt “dead,’’ which is a common occurrence during spring training and often stems from throwing too much too early.

Niese was in Port St. Lucie earlier than required to be, and there’s no telling how much he threw then, or during the off-season.

Niese, after laboring through two starts in freezing weather in Minnesota and Colorado last season – both games should have been rescheduled – later complained of stiffness in his back and trouble getting loose.

Eventually, Niese was placed on the disabled list, June 21, with a partial tear in his rotator cuff, and did not come back until Aug. 11.

Collins, speaking to reporters in Port St. Lucie, said the pain is in the triceps, which is a different part of the arm. The pain surfaced while Niese was throwing his second round of 20 pitches of batting practice Tuesday.

“Batting practice started and he felt fine,’’ Collins said. “And then he threw his second 20 pitches the other day. He just said at the end of it, ‘Geez, my arm’s just dead. Like, it’s dead.’ … It’s a precaution right now, but any time you’re sending someone for an MRI, obviously there’s going to be a concern until you get the reading back.

“He just said he’s got a little discomfort in there. So we’re going to go have it looked at.’’

Niese, 27, in the midst of a five-year, $25.5 million contract, has been scheduled to be the Opening Day starter, March 31, against Washington, at Citi Field.

ON DECK:  Sandy Alderson on shortstop situation

Feb 21

Three Mets Players to Watch This Spring Training

COLLINS: Issues to address.

The Mets begin their first full squad workout in St. Lucie on Saturday, February 22 and for us fans there’s nothing better than watching the news filter out of the camp, knowing the first day of the season is getting ever so closer.

Spring training usually sets the benchmark for how a team will perform in the regular season. New additions show off their talent, last year’s rookies return with confidence, old-timers find ways to hang on and those recovering from injury face the uncertainty of testing out their bodies once more.

It’s a fascinating time for baseball fans, but also for those who set the MLB odds for each team and try to predict who will be the division and wild card winners. As rosters begin to take shape in the next six weeks, every team goes into Opening Day in a tie for first place. The tough part will be staying there.

For the Mets, their 2014 journey begins tomorrow. The Mets have many issues ranging from the muddled situation at first base and the yet to be contested battles for the fifth spot in the rotation and who will be the leadoff hitter. But there are three more things to watch for in spring training:

1. Bartolo Colon needs to deliver

Ever since our ace underwent Tommy John surgery late last year – ruling him out for the entirety of 2014 – many are betting and wondering who will replace the majestic Matt Harvey. All eyes will be on Bartolo Colon who was signed to a two year deal worth $20 million and has been the front office’s solution to replacing Harvey’s loss in the rotation. While we all keep our fingers crossed and hope for improved command from Zack Wheeler and the mid-season debut of the promising Noah Syndergaard, the Mets need to hit big it with Colon – Alderson’s highest paid pitcher in four years. They’ll also need to see Dillon Gee and Jon Niese look like the pitchers we saw in the second half of last season.

2. Travis d’Arnaud must step up

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of articles and features on framing pitches, and I’m looking forward to articles on D’Arnaud mashing pitches. TDA didn’t get his billing at top catching prospect for getting one or two extra strike call per nine innings. The rookie catcher played 31 games in the close of last season, but often showed how pressure can get to him. Yet despite his poor form that saw him finish 2013 batting .202, d’Arnaud has the capabilities to be a solid performer in the Mets roster and must prove himself in spring training. At 25-years old it’s time to show-off the offensive package we’ve been hearing about for the last four years.

3. Chris Young against RHP

I’m not worried about Curtis Granderson, we all know what he can do. But as long as Chris Young is being handed an everyday job after a season that saw him bat .200 with a .280 OBP – both lower than Juan Lagares – he’s the man under the microscope.  What scares me more about him – aside from Billy Beane casting him away and proclaiming him a platoon player – is his horrendous .225 career batting average against right handed pitching in 2,825 plate appearances. Is that sample size big enough for you? He has declined every year since 2010 except for his strikeout rate, that continues to climb. He’s pushing a promising prospect to the bench, he better pay us back in spades.