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

Harvey Provides Lone Bright Spot For Mets

On the worst day of the spring for the Mets, Matt Harvey provided the lone bright spot with four scoreless innings in Monday’s 4-3 loss to Boston.

HARVEY: Posiitve start (Getty)

HARVEY: Posiitve start (Getty)

Harvey, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, gave up three hits and struck out three against the Red Sox, shortly after the Mets announced Zack Wheeler would undergo surgery.

Harvey threw consistently around 95 mph., and said he felt good with no discomfort.

“It’s a tough day for all of us,’’ Harvey told reporters. “The big thing was getting my work done and really focusing on that. If you want to call it picking the team up, I did my best to do that.

“I felt great to the last pitch. So we’re moving in a good direction.’’

Well, at least Harvey is.

ON DECK: Mets Matters: Today’s game and notes.

Mar 16

Gee Back In Rotation

What had long been speculated about the Mets unfortunately reached fruition today with the news Zack Wheeler’s year would end because of season-ending Tommy John surgery and would be replaced in the rotation by Dillon Gee.

GEE: Back in rotation. (AP)

GEE: Back in rotation. (AP)

“That’s why we have him,’’ manager Terry Collins told reporters after Monday’s 4-3 loss to Boston. “He’ll be the guy.’’

Gee is 40-34 with a 3.91 ERA in 103 career starts, but had been relegated to the bullpen after the Mets failed to trade him this winter.

The decision to use Gee means the Mets won’t have to rush Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz to the major leagues.

If either opened the season in the major leagues and never went back to the minors they would become free agency after the 2020 season. If they were brought up after the 21st day of the season, that would delay free agency until after the 2021 season.

However, if they waited to promote either until summer, that delays the arbitration process by a year, which would mean untold savings.

ON DECK: Matt Harvey brings bright spot to dismal day.


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?



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.