Jun 21

Mets’ Jon Niese Has Rotator Cuff Tear; Injury Might Have Roots In Cold Weather Games

The bad news regarding Jonathon Niese has gotten worse – almost as bad as it can get for the New York Mets.

Niese, who left Thursday night’s game in Atlanta in the fourth inning because of pain in his left shoulder, was diagnosed with a partially torn rotator cuff. The announcement came less than an hour after manager Terry Collins was quoted as saying the injury wasn’t severe.

Collins’ comments only reinforced the understanding that under no circumstances, should the word of a Mets’ manager be taken when it comes to discussing the severity of an injury, which might have had its roots from Niese pitching in back-to-back sub-30-degree games in Minnesota and Denver.

Niese struggled after those starts and later complained of back stiffness. He later missed a start with shoulder tendinitis. What isn’t known, was how much Niese’s mechanics were altered by the cold-weather originated stiffness and if that strain eventually caused the tear.

Surgery is not immediately recommended the Mets said about an hour ago, but with this type of injury it usually is how these things end.

As was suggested earlier today, Niese was placed on the disabled list.

Speaking to reporters in Philadelphia, Mets assistant GM John Ricco said: “Hopefully, it will start healing itself and he won’t need surgery. But we’ll know more after a couple of weeks of rest. According to the doctors it’s a small-enough tear that with rest … they’re hopeful it won’t need surgery. It’s not ‘full thickness’ or a significant tear at this point.’’

If there’s no progress in that time, if the Mets wanted to add a player to their 40-man roster they could place Niese on the 60-day disabled list.

Niese recently missed a start because of tendinitis in his shoulder. Ricco said this is a new injury that didn’t show on a MRI at the time. That doesn’t mean Niese didn’t exasperate the injury by throwing with the tendinitis.

Reliever Greg Burke replaces Niese on the 25-man roster and the Mets’ rotation logjam took care of itself.

In a snarky comment, manager Collins told reporters: “You guys got your wish. There’s only five of them left.’’

It is as stupid a comment as a manager can make. No doubt Collins is frustrated, not only with his team, but also the persistent questioning of who would be bounced from the rotation.

The questioning is understandable since the Mets wanted to push things off by going to a six-man rotation. Reporters have to ask that question.

Collins’ answer implies the media wanted somebody to get hurt in order to get the answer. That’s not only absurd, but totally irresponsible.

It also won’t win Collins any points with the press if he needs the benefit of doubt when his job is on the line.

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Jun 21

Jonathan Niese Must Go On DL

Whatever the outcome of Jonathon Niese’s shoulder exam this morning in New York, the New York Mets must place him on the disabled list. Not should, but must.

That reliever Greg Burke is on his way to Philadelphia this morning indicates they are thinking in those terms. Replacing him in the rotation isn’t an issue with the arrival of Zack Wheeler, so there’s no need to make a decision on Shaun Marcum for at least another two weeks.

NIESE: Ailing again. (AP)

NIESE: Ailing again. (AP)

Nice and neat, isn’t it?

While the Mets’ roster maneuvering will take care of itself, they would prefer the juggling if it meant having a healthy Niese. If this were an isolated incident it might raise a red flag. That this is Niese’s third problem this season is alarming.

Niese left Thursday night’s game during the fourth inning in Atlanta with pain in his left shoulder. Unlike Matt Harvey, who tried to pitch through back discomfort several weeks ago – he gets a pass because he’s in his first full season – Niese realized something was wrong after a few pitches and called to the dugout.

There was no hesitation with Terry Collins in pulling him. There wasn’t even that “let’s throw a few warm-up tosses and see what’s going on’’ nonsense that has burned the Mets before.

Niese was gone.

“It’s never good when you have to leave a game. But on a good note, the doctor did some tests and everything was negative,’’ Niese said of a training room exam Thursday night. “It just felt really weak. I think the tendinitis kind of flared up again. I felt some pain that [Tyler] Pastornicky at-bat.

“I threw a fastball and noticed my velocity was down. There was a lot of discomfort. I tried to pitch through it, but every pitch after that I felt some pain, so I just had to stop.’’

Of course, Niese should not have tried to throw those few extra pitches, but a player will always attempt to work through it because differentiating between normal game pain and injury is difficult. However, Niese had already missed a start because of his shoulder.

Niese said he felt good after missing that one start and gave the obligatory “we’ll see what the doctor says.’’

Not this time. This has gone on long enough.

Niese is young, he’s left-handed, he throws hard – at least he did before this – and under a manageable contract through the 2016 season. Not only that, Niese is good. He’s a foundation piece; part of the Mets’ core.

He must be protected.

ON DECK: Updating Ike Davis.

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Jun 16

Terry Collins Questions Resolve Of Mets

There are roughly six weeks left of relevance in the season for the New York Mets. That takes into consideration the All-Star Game – Citi Field’s one chance to shine in the national spotlight – and past the trade deadline when we learn what Mets are rescued from the dark abyss of losing and brought into the shining light of a pennant race.

In praising Jon Niese’s spotty, yet gritty effort in another Mets’ loss Saturday to the Chicago Cubs, manager Terry Collins indirectly threw the rest of his team under the effort bus.

COLLINS: Alone with haunting thoughts? (Getty)

COLLINS: Alone with haunting thoughts? (Getty)

“Jon Niese didn’t have his good stuff,’’ an exasperated Collins told reporters. “He battled through six innings. He didn’t want to come out of the game. That’s what I want.’’

Huh?

“I want guys who don’t want to come out of the game,’’ Collins continued. “I want guys that say, ‘I care enough, as much as you do, that I want to stay in the game.’ We get more guys like that, we’ll win more baseball games.’’

Niese did not pitch well, but gutted into the sixth inning. It wasn’t a quality effort, but a starter must persevere. Collins praised Niese, but in doing so said he doesn’t have enough players with that resolve. He didn’t say players have quit, but read between the lines.

There must be players not named David Wright or Matt Harvey wondering if the manager was talking about them.

It’s also a dig at general manager Sandy Alderson for not getting him those players. And, in going full circle, it can be interpreted an indictment of himself; that he and his staff aren’t doing enough to motivate his players.

I wrote after the Ike Davis demotion if management believed it was heading in the right direction Collins should get an extension to avoid lame duck status. But, after what he said, you can’t help but think the manager believes this team lacks more than talent and is in deeper than just a hitting slump.

In one part of the clubhouse Wright held court and admitted it is tiring trying to come up with new answers to old questions. Wright spoke of guys needing to dig deep and use whatever motivators necessary to finish strong.

Finishing the season? Doesn’t that sound a lot like getting it over with?

Wright is captain for a reason, but it is time he takes off the gloves. It is time he takes this team by the scruff of the neck and shake it awake. It isn’t time to be a politician and say the right things. It is time to lead, and if it means being unpopular, than so be it.

Motivation? How about this being their jobs? How about pride? How about being a professional? How about manning up?

“A lot these guys are going to be part of the future,’’ said Wright. I know what he is getting at there, but if I hear the word “future,’’ pertaining to the Mets one more time I will scream.

Does anybody else remember the late football coach George Allen? Allen, in filling his roster with veterans, coined the phrase, “the future is now.’’

But, what about now?

The Mets won’t win now, but they can play hard now. They can play smart now. They can hustle now. They can give us a reason to watch now. They can earn their money now.

So, quit the crap and play ball. And, as for Collins – quit whining about what you don’t have and kick the group you do have in its collective butt.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Jun 05

After Sleeping On It: Mets Should Deal Shaun Marcum

Conventional wisdom has either Jeremy Hefner or Dillon Gee losing their rotation spot when Zack Wheeler is promoted.

Why just them?

MARCUM: Time to trade him. (AP)

MARCUM: Time to trade him. (AP)

After sleeping on it, considering Hefner’s strong start in Washington last night, my choice would be to deal Shaun Marcum.

Marcum has gone six-plus innings in his last four starts to show signs he’s coming around physically. Of the three, Marcum has been the least effective, but his name isn’t mentioned because he’s making $4 million.

Marcum threw a strong six innings against the Marlins until he unraveled in the seventh. But, if you’re a contender trying to fill out the back end of your rotation, you’d be happy with six innings.

Realistically, the Mets might have to delay this decision until they get a read on Jon Niese’s sore shoulder. Niese will throw today, but if he’s not ready he could miss another start or go on the disabled list.

However, should Niese be fine, I’m still for dealing Marcum, and economics are part of the reason as his salary would be palatable to a team looking to add. On a side note, I couldn’t help but laugh when I read where the Mets might be buyers in July. Have they not been watching this team?

Terry Collins said it best when he told reporters in Washington about Wheeler: “He’s not going to be the savior. There are a lot of pieces that have to work. One guy is not going to turn this around, of course. It takes 25.’’

Yes, it does. We could go on for hours discussing the Mets’ weaknesses and needs, but for the sake of this argument, let’s keep it to the rotation.

Matt Harvey and Niese, assuming the latter is healthy, are safe. The way Hefner and Gee are pitching, they could attract interest, but have manageable salaries, something the Mets covet. If either are dealt, that opens another hole.

Marcum, meanwhile, is gone after this season. If Wheeler proves he’s ready, there would be no reason to entertain bringing Marcum back, so strike when the iron is at least lukewarm to see what they can get.

Hefner and Gee are worth keeping.

Hefner was brilliant Tuesday night in another hard-luck no-decision, one of four he’s had while throwing a quality start. He had another in a loss. Overall, he’s given the Mets at least six innings in seven of his last eight starts.

The Mets would be ecstatic to get that from Wheeler.

Gee hasn’t been as sharp, but is coming off his best start of the season last week against the Yankees when he gave up one run in seven innings. Overall, the Mets have won four of his last six starts, so he must be doing something right. Gee worked six innings or better in 13 of 17 starts last season, so there’s a track record of productivity.

Keep Hefner and Gee, who might be valuable in the future and deal Marcum, who’ll be a one-year Met at best.

ON DECK: Mets Matters notebook.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 19

Sacking Terry Collins Now Would Be Unfair

Terry Collins will go to home plate tomorrow with the line-up card and likely get booed. Surely, he’ll hear it when he makes a pitching change.

COLLINS: Give him a fair chance.

COLLINS: Give him a fair chance.

It won’t be fair, but we know few things in baseball aren’t fair.

Collins doesn’t have a contract beyond this season, and his lame duck status rises to the surface when the Mets go into a tailspin, as they did last week when they lost a season-high six straight games, and he later blasted the fans over the Jordany Valdespin episode.

I ripped him over Valdespin with no regrets, but Collins does deserve some points for his clarification the next day. He didn’t retract, which is fine, didn’t say he was misquoted, which is commendable, but said there was room for interpretation.

Sometimes, I don’t get where Collins is coming from when he waffles – for example, I don’t think he gave Collin Cowgill a long enough opportunity in center/leadoff at the start of the season – but for the most part realize he’s dealing with a lack of depth and talent.

Assuming there’s no turnaround, this will be Collins’ third straight losing season, enough to get most managers sacked, but there is a unique scenario in Flushing.

Collins was not hired to take the Mets to the playoffs. He was hired as a caretaker and to change the culture. He is being asked to win a poker hand with five cards worth of mismatched talent. When it comes to discarding cards, Collins might keep David Wright and Matt Harvey, but that’s about it.

Sandy Alderson – also hired as a caretaker – and ownership, which is trying to stabilize its financial ship, have not given Collins a genuine opportunity to win.

Collins has not changed the culture, but he’s not had total support from Alderson in that regard. How else can you explain Valdespin’s presence on the roster? Also, Alderson’s comments yesterday about it not being imminent Ike Davis will be optioned shows a lack of changing the culture.

And, not for a second do I buy there’s no other alternative. The issue isn’t who will play first base for a month in a lost season, but why won’t they make the decision to do something to help Davis?

That falls on Alderson, not Collins.

A way you determine whether a manager is reaching his players is if they’ll still hustle for him and if he loses his clubhouse, and there’s not enough evidence of either. The captain, Wright, plays hard and is the proper example.

However, keeping Valdespin’s toxic attitude and Davis’ dysfunctional bat could gradually eat away at this team’s psyche. Collins’ lame duck status can also do the same.

If the Mets are to be financially whole after this season and show a willingness to spend to add talent, then Collins should get the opportunity to manage that team. He should get the chance to manage with some degree of talent in his dugout.

In looking at the Mets’ 25-man roster, I only see a handful of players I can say with certainty will be back next year: Wright, Harvey, Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell. I can see Daniel Murphy back, but also dealt in July. I can see somebody else playing shortstop next year. Everybody else I can see gone.

That indicates no core or organizational depth, and that’s not Collins’ fault. Give Collins time with a full deck and then make a decision. It’s not fair to do so otherwise.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos