Mar 04

What’s Going On With Early Mets’ Injuries?

The New York Mets have frequently been criticized for their handing of injuries, and already this spring there have been several, many of them of the tight muscle variety.

The first case was left-hander Jonathon Niese, who complained of a tired arm, caused by weak muscles in the back of his shoulder.

I raised several questions, primarily that he might not have been given the exercises needed for rehab. Niese is now throwing again and has been given a series of exercises.

The Mets’ other injuries this spring are new, and could fall under the umbrella of not warming up properly.

First basemen Ike Davis and Lucas Duda have missed time with tightness in their leg muscles; shortstop Ruben Tejada has a tight left hamstring; and outfielder Eric Young has muscle tightness in his side.

Manager Terry Collins told reporters in Port St. Lucie he attributes these injuries to the fields being hard from being baked by the sun and the players could be overly exerting themselves.

While they could be contributing factors, there might be others, such as whether they spend enough time doing stretching exercises getting loose and are they properly hydrated?

Also, players these days spend an extraordinary amount of time lifting weights and perhaps not enough stretching or doing flexibility exercises. These causes wonder as to what type of off-season workout programs they are on.

Who knows, Collins could be right and this could be a freak thing. However, there have already been four players – excluding Niese – who have missed time because of tight muscles.

This all must be analyzed, especially considering the Mets’ history in their handling of injuries.

Mar 03

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Impressive; Davis Scratched; Piazza In Camp

New York Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard threw two scoreless innings this afternoon in a 6-2 victory over Atlanta. Manager Terry Collins called it a “big test’’ as Syndergaard gave up one hit in his 30-pitch audition that included a three-pitch punch out of Evan Gattis.

“You’re not in Kansas anymore,’’ Collins told reporters of Syndergaard’s performance. “You’re where the big guys play. I thought he handled it great. You don’t see a lot of people throw three fastballs by Gattis. That won’t happen very much. He just made pitches he had to make.

“He’s a big, tough kid. He’s got all the traits of the good ones. He takes stuff seriously. He’s not joking around. He didn’t joke around even after he came out of the game. … There are certainly some things we’ve got to get him to do better. But, right now, he’s on track to be special.’’

That’s not to be interpreted to mean Syndergaard will open the season on the Opening Day roster. Syndergaard worked on an innings count last season at Double-A Binghamton, and projections are he will start the year at Triple-A Las Vegas.

In addition:

* First baseman Lucas Duda left the game with leg stiffness and is day-to-day.

* First baseman Ike Davis was pulled from the lineup with a tight calf. He is expected to play Tuesday.

* Former Mets catcher Mike Piazza, 45, is in camp this week as a guest instructor. Jeff Wilpon invited him last September when he was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame. “For me it’s very rewarding to coach and to try to help a little bit,’’ Piazza said.

* Shortstop Ruben Tejada did not play because of a tight left hamstring, but is expected to play Tuesday.

* Jonathon Niese said his left shoulder felt good after throwing in the bullpen Monday afternoon. Niese is scratched from tomorrow’s start. He is expected to throw again Thursday, but does not have a date set in which he will start.

* Major League Baseball’s new instant replay format will be tested at Tradition Field, March 7, 15, 18 and 23.

* Matt Harvey long-tossed this morning. He’s still a long way from the mound.

 

Mar 01

Arguments For John Lannan Being Fifth Starter

Current conventional wisdom has the inside track for the fifth spot in the New York Mets’ rotation belonging to Daisuke Matsuzaka, based primarily on how he finished last season in Flushing.

His competition is John Lannan and Jenrry Mejia, the latter who is coming off elbow surgery. There is sentiment for Mejia to win the job if healthy, but several arguments can be made in favor of Lannan:

* Lannan is left-handed, which would give the Mets two in their rotation. The other is Jonathon Niese, but his balky shoulder could give the Mets pause when it comes to cutting loose Lannan. If Niese isn’t ready, they will need a lefty in their rotation.

* Another consideration is age. At 29, Lannan is four years younger than Matsuzaka. Mejia is 24, but there’s still time for him to crack the rotation. In addition, Mejia has experience as a reliever, and the Mets have questions in their bullpen.

* He has a 45-58 record pitching for some pretty poor Washington teams during his seven-year career, but with a decent 4.12 ERA. Nine of those victories have been against Atlanta, but admittedly a weak 3-13 record against Philadelphia.

* In three out of four years from 2008-2011, Lannan started over 30 games and worked at least 180 innings. By contrast, Matsuzaka has only once started as many as 30 games and worked more than 170 innings during his career.

* Matsuzaka has a career 53-40 record, and seemed to correct his mechanical flaws in his final three starts in 2013 with the Mets. If Matsuzaka has indeed found his rhythm, the Mets could have a valuable trade chip while at the same time keep Lannan.

Lannan will get two innings or 30 pitches today against the Marlins.

The fifth spot remains up for grabs, but Lannan could fill the role while giving Mejia time to recover and work in the bullpen, and provide them a trade asset in Matsuzaka.

That’s a lot to consider.

Feb 28

Updating Mets’ Injuries: Niese, Parnell, Young And Colon

It’s early, but the New York Mets already have several injury issues that don’t include Jonathon Niese.

PARNELL: To throw BP Saturday (AP)

PARNELL: To throw BP Saturday (AP)

There were reports Niese might throw this weekend, but that’s premature as he said he doesn’t know when he’ll get back on the mound. That could be determined later today.

Obviously, his exhibition start Tuesday against Houston is pushed back. Niese said he doesn’t expect to miss his Opening Day start, March 31, against Washington at Citi Field.

In addition:

* Closer Bobby Parnell is scheduled to throw batting practice Saturday. It will be his first time throwing to hitters since undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. Parnell was supposed to throw earlier in the week, but that was pushed back after sustaining a strained left quadriceps muscle.

Parnell’s status is considered one of the Mets’ most significant issues in spring training. If he isn’t ready to start the season, Vic Black will assume the closer role.

* Outfielder and leadoff hitter Eric Young isn’t expected to play this weekend because of a strained muscle in his side. Manager Terry Collins said the training staff wants to see Young in the field before letting him play. Collins said Sunday at the earliest, but indicated Monday or Tuesday are more likely.

* Bartolo Colon has been out with a strained calf, but is expected to throw today. He has been working out on a stationary bike.

ON DECK: Is Sandy Alderson kidding about 90 wins?

 

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.