Mar 31

No Reason To Rush Conforto

It is both good and bad news that Michael Conforto could be activated by the Mets from the disabled list. The good news is that his rehab following shoulder surgery is ahead of schedule. The bad news, of course, is this gives GM Sandy Alderson the potential to tinker with an injury.

Alderson, who snapped, “I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube,’’ when asked last year why he didn’t force Noah Syndergaard to take an MRI, then subsequently gave the all-clear decision to start him against Washington that resulted in a torn lat muscle that scuttled last season.

Originally, the Mets and Conforto stated a May 1 return date, and April 5 beats that by over three weeks.

“That’s a decision we’ll make over the next couple of days,’’ Alderson said.

Why so soon?

Why not see what Brandon Nimmo can do over the next month? What’s the hurry?

Alderson is the man who constantly pokes at the coals on a grill. He has traditionally mishandled injuries by rushing players back. He’s done it with David Wright, Matt Harvey and Syndergaard to name a few.

Conforto said, “I’m pretty close,’’ but that’s a player itching to get back and not a doctor. He’s already playing in minor league rehab games.

I’m not a doctor, either, but as a student of Mets’ history, I’ve seen too many players rushed back from injuries and know this has the potential to end badly.

There’s nothing to be gained by bringing Conforto back next week, but plenty to lose.

Mar 06

Is It Time To Worry About Rosario’s Knee?

The Mets have been upfront about their injury situation. Unfortunately, there’s a lot for them to talk about. The latest of consequence is shortstop Amed Rosario’s sore left knee.

Rosario didn’t return today against Houston, and still hasn’t undergone an MRI since leaving Saturday’s game. The Mets are calling it “left knee irritation,’’ but Rosario said: “I felt some sort of tightness about the knee. That’s what I felt. … On Saturday I felt a little bit of pain.’’ (Monday) I tried to run a little bit again, but not on the same level as Saturday, so it’s going down.’’

Opening Day is three weeks from tomorrow, and Rosario said he’s now “starting from zero.’’

The Mets have Jose Reyes to fall back on [although Ty Kelly started today].

Is it time to worry about making the Opening Day roster? If this continues to linger and doctors find something today, maybe it is.

The Mets finally gave Rosario an MRI today which came back negative.

 

 

Feb 23

Callaway Benches Smith; Shows Who Is Boss

Today wasn’t just a milestone day for new Mets manager Mickey Callaway simply because it was his first game, it was in that he firmly established who is in charge.

From the moment he was introduced, Callaway stressed accountability and responsibility.

It wasn’t always that way under Terry Collins, who, in all fairness, didn’t get support from GM Sandy Alderson. Obviously, Alderson wouldn’t undercut Callaway over Dominic Smith, but it was encouraging to see the rookie manager pull the prospect from the starting lineup after he showed up late to a team meeting.

Callaway doesn’t have many rules, but being on time is one of them. It’s not all that hard to show up on time, and it is head scratching for someone trying to make the roster being late for the first game of the year.

Players supposed to show up for an 8:45 a.m., meeting and Smith was late. Maybe he overslept, maybe he got stuck in traffic, maybe he didn’t set his alarm properly. Whatever the reason, it didn’t fly with Callaway, nor should it.

Smith is a professional, and while he might have a lot to learn about playing the game, he should already know how to set an alarm clock.

Perhaps it would have been more impressive if it was Yoenis Cespedes, Matt Harvey or Noah Syndergaard – all who tested the limits under Collins – but Callaway wouldn’t wilt in his first disciplinary test.

Good for him.

To his credit, Smith made no excuses, was contrite and admitted he was wrong.

“I shouldn’t be cutting it close like that,’’ Smith told reporters. “I’m a professional. This is my job. This is my career. It’s my livelihood. I felt like I definitely let them down today.

“He asked me what I thought the decision should be and I agreed with him. That’s the only way it should be. They shouldn’t give me a pass or whatever. They shouldn’t give anybody a pass. That’s what he’s been preaching since Day 1 – accountability. You got to be accountable for yourself, your actions.’’

Yes, it was only a Triple-A prospect. It wasn’t Cespedes, who is erratic in his hustle and blew off treatment of a quad injury to play golf; it wasn’t Harvey, who blew off a game last year nursing a hangover; and it wasn’t Syndergaard, who refused to take an MRI and subsequently tore a lat muscle last April which basically cost the Mets their season.

Some might ask why this is a big deal, that what difference does a few minutes make.

It’s because being late shows a lack of discipline. It shows a lack of respect for the rules and your teammates. It’s because little things can grow into bad habits that can cost a team games if left unchecked.

Basically, it’s learning how to win, something the Mets don’t know how to do.

Jan 25

Have Mets Really Changed Their Medical Philosophy?

It was interesting to hear how GM Sandy Alderson overhauled the Mets’ medical staff, but then I remembered that was something both he and COO Jeff Wilpon vowed they would do when Alderson was hired in October of 2010.

However, that, like several other Mets’ promises when unfulfilled.

HARVEY: Personifies Mets' handling of injuries.(AP)

HARVEY: Personifies Mets’ handling of injuries.(AP)

How the Mets have handled injuries has long been a source of angst for fans and players of the franchise, and here’s hoping Jim Cavallini and Brian Chicklo have an uneventful tenure heading up the on-field medical staff.

However, in looking at some of the Mets’ most recent paralyzing injuries, a bulk of the responsibility falls with Alderson and the players themselves.

Among the most significant:

David Wright: In 2011, Wright played a month with a stress fracture in his lower back. Wright must assume some responsibility for trying to gut it out, but Alderson needs to share in this, too, for not insisting on an MRI earlier. We’ll never know how things might have been different for Wright had this been handled differently,

Jose Reyes: In 2010, Reyes sustained an injury to his right side in batting practice, June 30, and misses six games. As has been a tendency under Alderson, Reyes in rushed back and aggravates the injury, July 10 and is out for ten days. The Mets foolishly believe the All-Star break is enough time, and bring him back July 20. He is reinjured a month later and doesn’t return until Sept. 10.

Matt Harvey: The essence of the Mets’ bumbling of injuries began in 2013 with Harvey. Off to a fantastic start and facing the prospect of starting the All-Star Game at Citi Field, Harvey ignored tightness in his right forearm. Harvey – much to the delight of the Mets’ brass – started and starred in the All-Star Game, but was eventually shut down and went on the disabled list.

Harvey then got into a spitting match with Alderson about surgery and when to do his rehab. Then, after missing the entire 2014 season, Harvey and Alderson then clashed on an innings limit. Finally, last spring, Alderson ignored a warning from then-pitching coach Dan Warthen that Harvey wouldn’t be full strength until late May and rushed him back. We know what happened next.

Had Harvey not hid his sore forearm in 2013, and the Mets not shut him down at the All-Star break, there’s no telling how things might have unfolded differently.

Yoenis Cespedes: The Mets foolishly gave Cespedes a four-year, $110-million contract, then gave him carte blanche to become a bodybuilder. Despite a history of injuries, Cespedes strained his left hamstring last year. Then, as their offense went up in smoke, they rushed him back and he tore the hamstring and was limited to less than 90 games played.

Noah Syndergaard: As they did with Harvey, the Mets gave into Syndergaard. First, they let him become muscle bound in the offseason, then let him get away with not getting an MRI. Syndergaard subsequently tore his lat muscle in an early-season game at Washington and was lost for the year.

“I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube,’’ is the quote that identifies Alderson’s regime. Alderson then said there was nothing the MRI would have shown that could have prevented the tear. Seriously, he said that.

The above five injuries were attributable to giving the players too much latitude and for Alderson not being the adult in the room. Unless those two variables change, it doesn’t matter who the new trainer is.

Oct 03

No Meaningful Change In Mets’ Purge

In looking at the big picture, what has Mets GM Sandy Alderson really accomplished since the end of the season?

Terry Collins, whom his staff disparaged in an article ripe with anonymous, scathing comments, was removed as manager and given a new position as special assistant to the general manager. Collins officially accepted the job this morning.

ALDERSON: No meaningful change so far. (AP)

ALDERSON: No meaningful change so far. (AP)

With the collapse of the pitching staff caused mostly by injuries, pitching coach Dan Warthen’s job was tenuous. His imminent departure became official this morning, but like Collins, Warthen was offered another job in the organization.

What is this? Keep your friends close but your enemies closer? If Collins and Warthen were so bad – each had faults but neither was the root of the Mets’ collapse – then why were they kept on?

My guess is that by giving them new jobs, they wouldn’t be in the position to publicly rip Alderson. Keeping them on insulates the general manager.

Neither Collins nor Warthen lit a fire under Mets’ fans like trainer Ray Ramirez, who was fired today one week after Alderson said he was staying.

Ramirez took a lot of heat for the Mets’ run of injuries over the past several seasons, but he was clearly not responsible for the pitching staff’s three most significant injuries.

When Matt Harvey struggled finding his velocity this spring following thoracic outlet surgery, Warthen said he wouldn’t regain his full strength until the end of May. However, with Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler not ready, the Mets pushed Harvey’s return.

That’s on Alderson, not Ramirez.

Then there was the Noah Syndergaard fiasco. Syndergaard bulked up in the offseason – not under Ramirez’s guidance and unbeknownst to Alderson and Warthen – and added 17 pounds with the hope of lasting longer in games. Syndergaard complained of soreness in his arm which was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis.

Syndergaard refused an MRI then sustained a partially torn lat muscle which prompted the gem from Alderson, “I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube.’’

That was Alderson’s call, not Ramirez’s.

Finally, there was Jeurys Familia’s blood clot, which some tried to pin on overuse by Collins. However, there was being away from spring training for the WBC followed by his suspension. Perhaps after that, he was rushed back, but Collins doesn’t make those decisions.

Also training on his own was Yoenis Cespedes, who played in only 81 games. 

The thing about Ramirez’s job is he doesn’t diagnose the serious injuries. Ramirez’s staff and the conditioning staff remained intact, as were the Mets’ medical staff. Ramirez is far from perfect, but he’s been made a fall guy.

Today’s purge also included bench coach Dick Scott, first base coach Tom Goodwin and bullpen coach Ricky Bones. Staying on will be Kevin Long, Pat Roessler and Glenn Sherlock, which tells you the incoming manager will be assigned part of his staff.