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’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.