PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. --
FIRST PITCH: Hopefully St. Patrick’s Day will be a quieter day for the New York Mets.
At the very least, hopefully a streak of Mets announcements that their pitchers require Tommy John surgery will be snapped at two straight days.
On the minor league side of camp, Bobby Parnell is due to pitch in his first game since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April 8, according to manager Terry Collins. Parnell was slated to open the season on the DL for a few weeks even before a left-hamstring strain delayed his game debut.
TUESDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:
On Friday, the Mets announced Wheeler had been scratched from the following day’s Grapefruit League start. But general manager Sandy Alderson insisted Wheeler did not need an MRI.
On Saturday, Wheeler underwent an MRI.
On Sunday, Collins said he expected no serious issue. After all, Wheeler had managed pain throughout the 2014 season. And Wheeler already had undergone two winter MRIs -- neither of which revealed any ligament damage.
Well, on Monday, the Mets were announcing that Wheeler has a fully torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow and will require Tommy John surgery.
Spare wheel Dillon Gee, who was being prepped for relief work, will get to remain in the rotation after all, Collins insisted, despite Alderson being noncommittal Monday. Top prospects Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz still are ticketed for Triple-A Las Vegas, a source told ESPNNewYork.com. Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post suggested Rafael Montero is the rotation alternative to Gee. Sherman believes the Mets still would be willing to trade Gee.
Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record chastises the Mets for using Wheeler so heavily last season given he was pitching through elbow pain. Perhaps Wheeler’s current UCL tear could have been avoided by more rest in 2014, he asserts. Writes Klapsich:
Alderson’s answer -- "If the doctors felt we needed to treat him in a different way we would have" -- isn’t good enough. Either the Mets need a more proactive medical staff, or the club should ask itself how it got caught flat-footed.
Columnist Ken Davidoff in the Post suggests "no one will be buying it" if the Mets try to use Wheeler’s UCL tear as an excuse if the season ultimately goes south.
If the Mets are going to contend, they will need Syndergaard or Matz in the rotation -- "another big strikeout arm" -- columnist John Harper asserts in the Daily News.
Columnist David Lennon in Newsday also weighs in.
The Mets have had no shortage of players who have required Tommy John surgery in recent years, beyond the Edgin and Wheeler gut punches this week and Matt Harvey and Parnell, who are just returning. Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz needed the procedure as young minor leaguers. Jeremy Hefner needed Tommy John surgery twice. And Jenrry Mejia had the procedure in 2011.
"In deGrom’s case and Matz’s case, those injuries occurred very soon after they came into our organization," Alderson said during a conference call Monday. "So it’s not even clear what the origins of those injuries are, and whether anything we were doing had any impact on that. Harvey and Wheeler are two separate situations. You can always look at your practices in developing pitching, and also look at mechanics and whether mechanics are clean or not clean, velocities and assortments of pitches. We will certainly continue to look at what we’re doing. But ... this is an industry-wide problem. And there is some suggestion this goes back to pitching loads and things that predate even college."
David Waldstein in the Times discusses that rash of Mets elbow injuries, and how the Mets failed to detect Wheeler’s UCL tear until a third winter MRI.
Harvey dominated Monday, in his third Grapefruit League start since returning from Tommy John surgery. Harvey tossed four scoreless innings against, essentially, the Opening Day lineup of the Boston Red Sox while sitting at 95-97 mph with his fastball."His slider was very powerful and he had good command," Sox slugger David Ortiz told the Post. Ortiz added that Harvey threw a little harder in the 2013 All-Star Game when they matched up. But, he added, this is spring training versus a big in-season stage.
With Wheeler’s injury, Harvey’s return takes on even more importance, columnist Anthony McCarron writes in the Daily News.
Catching prospect Kevin Plawecki allowed a bases-loaded passed ball in the bottom of the ninth and the Mets lost to the Red Sox, 4-3, Monday in Fort Myers. After four scoreless innings from Harvey, Syndergaard allowed two runs in 2 2/3 innings. Read more in the Post and at MLB.com.
Leigh Castergine, the fired Mets executive who settled her lawsuit against the ballclub on Friday for an undisclosed amount, wrote a column at CNN.com entitled: "Why sports needs women in management."
From the bloggers ... Faith and Fear realizes pitchers, no matter how talented, aren't interchangeable parts. ... Mets Report suggests Alderson answered critical questions about Wheeler. ... Rising Apple believes Syndergaard deserves a rotation spot once free agency is delayed by a year.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
@AdamRubinESPN I hope the proceeds go toward a new Lefty
— Tony Cano (@saabcano) March 16, 2015
YOU’RE UP: Are the Mets making the right call using Dillon Gee to replace Zack Wheeler in the rotation?