Mar 16

Wheeler Injury Raises Questions

When it comes to the New York Mets and injuries, specifically their pitchers, never take the initial news at face value.

NEVER.

Wheeler facing the knife.

Wheeler facing the knife.

GM Sandy Alderson was adamant initially saying Zack Wheeler didn’t need a MRI. Manager Terry Collins, after saying Wheeler had two MRIs over the winter, indicated prior to Saturday’s start, “everybody could use a little rest.’’

The Mets finally gave into common sense and Wheeler had a MRI, which showed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow that will likely require Tommy John surgery. That rest Collins was speaking of, well, we’ll get a lot between now and next spring.

“Everybody gets MRIs today,’’ Collins told reporters. “That’s the nature of the beast. You come in with an upset stomach and they give you an MRI. And then you have an abdominal strain. It’s what you do to protect yourself.’’

So, why the delay?

UNBELIEVABLE.

Just a couple of days ago, Alderson said a MRI wasn’t necessary. Today, he told reporters: “This is what happens to pitching. You see guys going down all over the place.’’

What exactly changed his mind? Could it have been the potential of negative backlash?

I’m not blaming Alderson or Collins for Wheeler’s injury, because the right thing was done in shutting him down when he reported persistent pain. But, I am criticizing them – and Wheeler, too – for downplaying this whole thing. None of the three are doctors and Wheeler especially, since it is his arm and career, should have been concerned.

However, the perception garnered from this case follows that of how the Mets handled injuries in recent years, and that’s they don’t know what they are doing.

This raises several questions:

* Collins said Wheeler managed the discomfort last season. If that’s the case, why wasn’t he shut down and examined when he first complained of pain?

* Of course, that’s predicated on whether Wheeler reported the pain in the first place. Did he fail to disclose this, something Matt Harvey did the previous year?

* Collins said Wheeler underwent two MRIs in the offseason. Why wasn’t anything discovered at that time?

* If Wheeler was clean, as Collins said, it stands to reason he injured it at the start of camp. If so, did he throw too hard, too soon? If so, why wasn’t he monitored better? If Wheeler pushed himself, why wasn’t he more careful? How come he wasn’t smarter?

* If Wheeler did everything properly this spring, it would seem this injury was “just one of those things,’’ or it was missed in the two offseason MRIs. If it is the latter, shouldn’t the Mets go back and look at that film to see if that’s the case?

* While the surface issue is Wheeler being hurt and down for the season, underneath there are a lot of nagging questions that paint the perception something was amiss in how this was handled.

When it comes to the Mets and pitching injuries, perception is reality. Bottom line, if I were a Met pitcher and felt something in my arm, I would be concerned.

Very concerned.

NOTE:  Will update later after Alderson conference call.

 

Mar 02

Mets Matters: Looking At Harvey, Left Field And Other Issues

It is way too early for rave reviews, but the first impression of Matt Harvey have been positive. Harvey threw to hitters – who swung this time – Monday morning and the reaction has been good.

Curtis Granderson especially liked Harvey’s command, telling reporters: “The big thing is he went to both sides of the plate really consistently and accurately and effectively. If he did miss, it was a miss that he wanted to make — not toward the middle of the plate.’’

mets-matters logoHarvey is ready, if not anxious.

“Once the hitters start swinging, that’s kind of a sign games are near and the season is coming closer,’’ Harvey said. “For us it’s exciting. Especially being 18 months from a competitive game, it’s a good feeling.’’

This is the last time for Harvey to be scheduled against hitters before Friday’s exhibition game against Detroit.

Pitching coach Dan Warthen said Harvey is slated to throw 35 pitches over two innings Friday, and will not exceed 40 pitches.

DUDA TO SWING THIS WEEK: First baseman Lucas Duda, bothered by a strained left intercostal muscle, could start hitting off a tee this week.

Manager Terry Collins said if that goes well he could start taking batting practice next week.

UP IN THE AIR: Collins hasn’t decided who’ll be his leadoff hitter, but favors Juan Lagares over Granderson.

Collins wants Lagares’ on-base percentage, which was .321 last season, to be in the .330 to .340 range.

Left field is to be determined between Granderson and Michael Cuddyer. Neither is greatly experience in left field, but both say they are willing to play wherever Collins wants. Cuddyer has three career starts in left, while Granderson has 22. Collins will rotate them for two weeks before making a decision.

“Obviously I don’t have much experience, but at the same time there’s no saying that I can’t come over there and learn,’’ Cuddyer told reporters about playing left field. “I take a lot of pride in being an athlete, not just a right fielder or a first baseman. It’s being a baseball player. And the definition of being a baseball player is going out and playing baseball where the manager puts you. So it’s fine with me.’’

You love to hear that stuff.

 

Mar 01

Further Proof Tejada Doesn’t Get It

My guess is this will be Ruben Tejada’s last season with the Mets. That is, if he lasts that long. Manager Terry Collins has called into question Tejada’s work ethic in the past, and now players are doing so.

Former teammate Jose Reyes, whose own attitude has been doubted, said Tejada failed in his opportunity to seize the Mets’ shortstop job.

Once off-season workout buddies, Tejada’s response to reporters of Reyes was: “I don’t really pay attention to too much. If I try to pay attention to everybody, it would make me crazy. I try to do my best and come here every day to work hard.’’

Tejada’s interpretation of working hard differs from that of Collins.

Collins has no problem with Reyes calling out Tejada, telling Newsday: “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with one of your peers challenging you once in a while. … Jose Reyes is a guy who gets ready to play. I think the world of Jose Reyes. Apparently, he may know something I don’t. … They were good buddies when they were here and I think Jose might know some things that I don’t know.’’

Maybe so, but I have the feeling Collins knows all he needs to know about Tejada – and the impression isn’t good.

Feb 27

Did Duda Push Injury Too Far?

As sure as the sun rises in the East, the Mets will have a spring training injury issue. It is the way of their world.

DUDA: Did he sit on injury?

DUDA: Did he sit on injury?

This spring it is first baseman Lucas Duda, who won’t be allowed to swing a bat for at least a week because of a strained left intercostal muscle. Initially, it was reported Duda had a strained left oblique and wouldn’t be able to swing the bat for up to three days. Then it was an intercostal muscle and he’d be out a week.

However, what is alarming is that ESPN reported Duda was bothered by this injury for “the past couple of weeks,’’ which leads to several questions:

* Did Duda report this injury, and if so, did the training staff clear him to swing the bat?

* If Duda did not report the injury to the training staff, then why didn’t he?

Every year there’s a player who trains through pain. It’s admirable to be a hard worker, but it is foolish to force things.

Manager Terry Collins told reporters: “Nobody is more upset than he is. He’s a workaholic. He’s bound and determined to be as good as he can be. He overdid it, and now he’s got to back off.’’

This spring the injury envelope was first pushed by Duda.

Feb 24

Duda Strains Oblique

You’re a winner if you had Lucas Duda in the pool as to what Met would be the first to strain his oblique muscle. Duda strained his right oblique swinging a bat and won’t hit for two to three days.

Duda will continue to work out in the field.

Manager Terry Collins plans to limit the amount of swings a batter takes, just as a pitcher is restricted.

A lot of players report early and often over-do it. Players also work hard lifting weights, but often overlook doing core strength exercises, which includes the oblique muscle.