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.


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?


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 14

Mets Matters: Wheeler To Get MRI; Duda Returns

The Mets relented, finally did the right thing and sent Zack Wheeler for a MRI on his tender right elbow.

Wheeler was scratched from Saturday’s start and instead went for the MRI. The results were not immediately announced, but should be released by Sunday.

mets-matters logoWheeler underwent two MRI exams in the offseason, which is why the club said GM Sandy Alderson initially indicated there would be no pictures.

We’ll see how the results are,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters. “He had two this winter. They were clean as heck, so we don’t expect any damage. A little rest won’t hurt.’’

The rest also allowed Wheeler extra time for blister on his right index finger to heal.

The team hasn’t said when Wheeler will pitch next.

DUDA RETURNS: First baseman Lucas Duda, who hadn’t played because of a strained left intercostal muscle, returned to the lineup and went 1-for-4 in Saturday’s 13-4 rout of Washington.

“I felt good,” Duda told reporters. “The timing is a little bit off. But, for the most part, my body feels great and I’m happy with what happened.’’

Duda is expected to start Sunday against Tampa Bay, and have Monday off.

METS ROUT NATS: David Wright hit a three-run homer – his first since last July – and Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry Jr., also homered to lead the Mets.

The Mets have scored 37 runs in their last three games.

EXTRA INNINGS: The MRI on Vic Black’s right shoulder was negative. There is weakness but no structural damage. … Prospect Tyler Pill, who started in place of Wheeler, threw 2.1 scoreless innings. … The Mets travel to Port Charlotte Sunday to play Tampa Bay, with Bartolo Colon starting. They will stay over on the Gulf side of the state and play Boston in Fort Myers on Monday, with Matt Harvey starting.

Mar 13

Mets Matters: Edgin Update; Wheeler Scratched: Mets Win Big

Mets lefty reliever Josh Edgin, as expected, sought a second opinion with Dr. James Andrews regarding Tommy John surgery. The MRI the Mets took will be sent to Andrews and examined. It will then be determined if Andrews needs to examine Edgin.

The current diagnosis is a stretched elbow irritated by a bone spur.

mets-matters logoEdgin told reporters Friday: “I’m looking at the second opinion as a mental thing to make the decision a little easier, whatever it may be. The best outcome is this rehab will work. I’m looking at it optimistically and prepared for both ends of the spectrum.’’

The worst-case scenario is surgery, but if it is done it should be shortly so Edgin is ready for next season.

WHEELER SCRATCHED: Zack Wheeler was scratched for Saturday’s start against Washington because of a tender elbow and blister.

Wheeler will not have an MRI.

Meanwhile, Vic Black underwent a MRI on his throwing shoulder.

Not sure why pictures were taken on Black and not Wheeler.

METS ROUT BRAVES: The Mets scored five runs in the first inning and Wilmer Flores hit a three-run homer in the third to power the Mets.

Flores’ homer was part of a 3-for-4 day. Curtis Granderson added two hits and Matt den Dekker walked three times.

Jon Niese started and struck out three in 3.2 innings.

LAWSUIT SETTLED: The Mets settled their lawsuit with Leigh Castergine, who was fired, Aug. 26, 2014, after four years of employment.

She alleged sexual harassment from COO Jeff Wilpon, claiming she was fired because Wilpon was “morally opposed’’ to her being unmarried and pregnant.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, and the parties stated in a joint statement: “The parties have decided to resolve this matter, which has brought more attention to the workplace environment for women in sports and will result in the organization being more attentive to the important issues raised by women in sports. Additionally, we are both committed to the further development and encouragement of female executives in our industry. Both sides? have agreed to have no further comments.’’

ROSTER MOVES: Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini, both first-round picks, and catching prospect Xorge Carrillo were reassigned to the minor league camp. … The Mets have 54 players in camp, including Bobby Parnell and Edgin, both of whom are ticketed for the disabled list.

Mar 10

Davis’ Saga Continues; This Won’t End Well

Nobody knows what to expect from Ike Davis this season. Not him, not the Mets, but we can speculate, which considering Davis’ history with the media this spring, won’t go over well.

Davis walked into camp this morning in a walking boot on his right foot, something not unfamiliar with him, having done so in 2011 after his collision with David Wright. He was off to a good start at the time, but hasn’t consistently hit since.

DAVIS:  We're all frustrated with Ike. (AP)

DAVIS: We’re all frustrated with Ike. (AP)

Reading Davis’ comments to reporters in Port St. Lucie, did nothing to assure anybody, 1) he will be ready for the start of the season, 2) this is being handled properly, and 3) he has a clue about what it takes to play in New York.

Here we are, three weeks from Opening Day, and the only certainty is Davis won’t get the 90-plus at-bats manager Terry Collins wanted for him.

He just won’t, regardless how he spins things.

“It’s just a walking boot,’’ Davis said matter-of-factly. “Nothing crazy happened. … Hopefully I’ll get two weeks of games in before the season starts. I can still get a lot of ABs.’’

Please explain how.

That comment says he won’t play this week. And, after not playing all this time, don’t think for a moment Davis will jump right in and get four at-bats a day for two weeks. It doesn’t work that way. He’ll be eased in after this week, but then have moments of sitting to make sure he doesn’t re-injure himself.

So, assuming Davis doesn’t play until next Monday – it’s Davis, so bet the over – that might leave him eight or nine games to get ready. At this rate, he might not get 30 at-bats, much less close to the 90 Collins wanted.

Also irritating is Davis saying he hasn’t yet had a MRI. Huh?

“I’m sure we’ll do that at some point,’’ Davis said about the MRI. Davis said his calves are tight, the right being more painful.

What are they waiting for, the traveling MRI show to come to town, much like the traveling carnivals you see throughout the south in mall parking lots this time of year?

First base is an important decision for the Mets, and here it is, halfway through spring training and there’s no clue. None.

Last season, Davis said he didn’t disclose a strained oblique because he was afraid it would come off as making an excuse. His comment this morning was worse.

“I want to play,’’ Davis said, then took a shot at the media, as if the writers forced his bad habits upon him. “Obviously I could have went out there and blown out and dealt with more articles about not saying it’s hurt.’’

C’mon Ike, give it a rest. You’re coming off as being too sensitive to what people say about you. That’s not a good quality to have if you’re a New York athlete.

For those who might have forgotten, Davis hit all of .205 last season with only nine homers and 33 RBI.

His approach at the plate is lost and one of desperation. There’s little patience; the habit of trying to pull everything; a nasty hitch and big loop to his swing; and he pulls his head off the pitch and seemingly refuses to go up the middle or to the opposite field. He’s a big-time mess fundamentally. Last summer’s excursion to Las Vegas accomplished nothing.

My guess is Davis will begin the season on the disabled list and his saga will continue to its inevitable sour end. When that happens, one can only wonder what will be written.

ON DECK: Mets routed by Marlins.



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.