Mar 20

Mets Matters: Murphy Could Go On DL; Syndergaard Optioned

The hits keep coming for the Mets, who could start the season with Daniel Murphy on the disabled list with a pulled right hamstring. The initial prognosis was tightness in the hamstring, but after a MRI the injury was called a pulled muscle.

When will GM Sandy Alderson ever learn not to label an injury until all the exams are completed? First Wheeler, then Murphy, then Josh Edgin, then Vic Black … one day it is one thing and the next it is something else, usually worse.

mets mattersAnd, let’s not forget Bobby Parnell, who has been pushed back again, this time from today until tomorrow.

“He’ll be out a week or so, maybe a little longer,’’ Alderson told reporters about Murphy’s injury. “Hamstrings take longer than people want to admit.’’

Alderson also said today either prospect Matt Reynolds or Danny Muno could make the roster coming out of spring training if Murphy is placed on the disabled list.

SYNDERGAARD OPTIONED: If a player on the 40-man roster is still camp by then end of today and is injured, he is entitled to major league service time if the injury extends into the start of the season.

Given that, it is easy to understand why Noah Syndergaard, who took a baseball off his left ankle Thursday – while playing catch of all things – was optioned to the minor league camp.

Syndergaard had X-rays taken and Alderson said the prospect is “more or less fine,’’ which means this is was purely done for long-range economic reasons.

ALDERSON ENDORSES FLORES: Murphy’s injury will not forced the Mets to move Wilmer Flores to second base and use Ruben Tejada at shortstop.

“Wilmer is the shortstop. Wilmer is the shortstop,’’ Alderson said. “It’s taken us this long to convince you guys that Wilmer is the shortstop.’’

EXTRA INNINGS: Bartolo Colon, who gave up two runs on six hits in 4.2 innings in Friday’s 5-4 victory over St. Louis, is currently lined up to be the Opening Day starter. … Steven Matz is scheduled to start Saturday.

Mar 20

As Details Emerge, Clearly Wheeler Gambled And Lost

The news is worse than expected for Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler, who will have Tommy John surgery next week and miss not only this season, but least the first two months of 2016.

Bottom line: His torn ulnar collateral ligament is worse than expected.

WHEELER: Gambled and lost. (Getty)

WHEELER: Gambled and lost. (Getty)

Couple that with the previous revelation from GM Sandy Alderson that Wheeler pitched through pain last year, and one can’t help but wonder if something was missed from the two MRIs he had over the winter. If nothing else, a wrong decision made following hearing the results.

One has to wonder who was giving Wheeler advice.

Wheeler said it wasn’t until offseason MRIs, particularly one in January that showed a partially torn tendon attached to a bony deposit in the elbow. He eschewed surgery because the recovery time was put at up to six months and would have put this year in jeopardy. Instead, he opted for platelet-rich-plasma therapy and to pitch through the pain.

From his perspective, Wheeler has no problems with how he was handled last summer.

“I can’t complain about how the Mets handled me last year innings wise,’’ Wheeler told reporters. “I don’t have any complaints at all about how they handled me.’’

After Wheeler was shut down for last week’s start, Alderson finally ordered a MRI. Wheeler met with team physician David Altchek Wednesday and orthopedic specialist Dr. Andrews the following day. Wheeler insists this is when he learned of the full tear and need for surgery.

“Of course I’m nervous about it,’’ Wheeler said. “But you’ve got to do it and have that mindset when you’re coming back that you’re going to be 100 percent and better than you were before. I knew it probably eventually was going to happen. You aren’t meant to throw overhand and throw hard.’’

As details continue to emerge, it is obvious Wheeler gambled and lost.

ON DECK:  Mets Matters: Today’s notes.

 

Mar 17

Alderson Defense Of Handling Of Wheeler Injury Weak

Mets GM Sandy Alderson answered many of the questions pertaining to Zack Wheeler’s injury Monday. However, that doesn’t mean he answered them all, and that’s not to say the Mets’ handling of the injury couldn’t have been better.

Alderson defended his handling of Wheeler’s injury, and as he frequently does with these things, his tenor came off as condescending and maddening. As usual, he came across as the lawyer treating us like idiots.

ALDERSON: Defense of Wheeler injury weak. (AP)

ALDERSON: Defense of Wheeler injury weak. (AP)

Most irksome was how he described Wheeler’s breakdown as “inevitable,’’ much as it was for Matt Harvey and saying the Mets’ treatment of each was the same.

“Let me just ask, why would we treat somebody like Harvey with the kind of caution that we did and then throw somebody else under the bus – somebody of essentially equal value to us as an organization?’’ Alderson said to reporters today. “That wouldn’t make any sense. I understand people can debate the number of pitches and the number of innings and this and that. We simply wouldn’t treat two guys that differently.’’

But, they did.

Harvey was shut down shortly after the All-Star break in 2013, but Wheeler continued to pitch at the end of last season despite soreness in his elbow. Alderson and manager Terry Collins even conceded Monday how Wheeler managed through the pain at the end of last year.

Alderson maintained Wheeler’s elbow was eventually going to break down, yet he was trotted out there every fifth day.

“The other thing is, when a guy is being managed, you understand what the sort of apocalyptic result could be – he blows something out,’’ Alderson said. “But the question is, what’s the alternative? If it blows out, it blows out. The alternative is that you manage somebody to the point where he’s not useful to you.’’

Which is what happened, as it has numerous times with other Mets.

When it comes to the Mets and pitching injuries, the club has a long list, including: Harvey, Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, Johan Santana, Jenrry Mejia, Jeremy Hefner and Jon Niese.

That’s more than an entire rotation and nearly a complete staff. A common thread in these injuries have been Alderson and pitching coach Dan Warthen.

The Mets didn’t have Harvey last year, but nonetheless made a run at respectability, as in finishing .500 or better. You can’t help but wonder if the goal to be competitive forced them to push Wheeler too hard.

Questions linger about the others, although not all had Tommy John surgery. What was their training routine like? Did they throw too hard, too soon, at the start of spring training? Were they properly monitored? Did they throw too soon in the offseason? Did they throw too much between starts? What was the rest of their conditioning program like?

Alderson answered the question as to why he didn’t immediately order a MRI for Wheeler. It seemed somewhat plausible at the time, but after sleeping on it and considering the long list of ailing Mets’ pitchers under his watch, it left something to be desired.

Using “lawyerspeak,’’ Alderson defended his handling of Wheeler’s injury. There was his usual fancy language, but a sharp district attorney would nail him.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s Notebook.

Mar 17

Wheeler Declines To Talk; Headed To New York

Of course, I would have wanted to hear what was on the mind of Zack Wheeler, the latest Mets pitching casualty. Wheeler decided not to talk to reporters this morning, which is his right, but he opted out in a classy manner.

Good job by Wheeler, who, without saying anything is undoubtedly frustrated and upset for having to face Tommy John surgery and will miss the season. He will fly to New York Tuesday evening and meet with team physician David Altchek tomorrow.

“I know you all have a lot of questions and stuff, but I’m not going to talk until I get Dr. Altchek’s input,” Wheeler told reporters this morning. “I’m going up there tonight and will see him tomorrow morning. Once I come back down, I’ll talk to you all and give you all the information that you want. But, until then, I just want to make sure that I know everything first — know all the right facts, instead of just throwing stuff out there.”

When he said that, Wheeler might have been thinking about when he told the press the discomfort in his elbow was no big deal, then he shortly learned his season was done.

It must be remembered the MRI was taken in Florida and not by Altchek.

Naturally, I am all for a player talking with the media, but in this case Wheeler doesn’t have the full story and details could change after meeting Altchek. This certainly isn’t a Marshawn Lynch replay.

ON DECK TODAY:  Today’s game.

 

Mar 16

Alderson Answers Critical Questions About Wheeler

Mets GM Sandy Alderson answered several questions raised Monday following the announcement Zack Wheeler‘s MRI revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow that would require Tommy John surgery and cost the highly-touted prospect this season.

Earlier today I raised several questions pertaining to the Mets handling of Wheeler’s injury. Alderson addressed most of them in a conference call this morning prior to the exhibition game against Boston in Fort Myers.

WHEELER: Done for year. (AP)

WHEELER: Done for year. (AP)

Wheeler underwent an MRI Saturday despite Alderson insisting one wasn’t needed and traveled Monday to New York to meet with Dr. David Altcheck at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Among the questions raised and subsequently answered by Alderson:

* After two MRIs in the offseason, which were negative, Alderson said another MRI wasn’t needed, but relented Saturday and ordered one. What was his reasoning? In a conference call, Alderson said he changed his mind because “the area of pain had increased in size.”

* Earlier the Mets said they weren’t concerned about discomfort in Wheeler’s elbow. Why? “We had been forewarned by the doctor that his elbow was a concern and it was going to have to be managed over the course of this season. It wasn’t clear that the ligament was involved at that time, but we understood we were going to have to manage his elbow condition over the course of the season. So when he complained of the elbow pain, it wasn’t a surprise to us.”

* Is there any good news in all this? Alderson said if there’s a positive it is that the issue will finally be addressed, as it was with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, and hopefully this will be the end of it. Said Alderson: “It’s a blow, but at the same time we knew there would be a lot of uncertainty surrounding Zack and his elbow over the course of the season. We’re obviously not happy he won’t be with us. But if there’s a silver lining, it’s that we now have some certainty and we have a solution for this that he won’t have to manage the kind of pain that he had to manage over the course of last season. Doing that over the course of a career is simply unsustainable.”

Manager Terry Collins said Wheeler managed discomfort last season, but what isn’t known is how adamant Wheeler was in complaining of the pain. Did he fail to disclose this, something Matt Harvey did the previous year?

Both Collins and Alderson said the two MRIs in the offseason were negative, so apparently this issue resurfaced this spring. What isn’t known is whether Wheeler threw too hard, too soon.

While Alderson addressed the obvious, something for down the road is how their pitchers throw in the offseason and the start of spring training. What exactly is the monitoring process and how can the pitchers be forced to be more open in disclosing injuries and pain?

While Alderson addressed the most pressing questions, the perception is the Mets mishandled this in not immediately getting a MRI. Again, if I were a Met pitcher and felt something wrong I would immediately want it checked out.

That’s because one critical question remains unanswered: Why does this always seem to happen to the Mets?