Niese blames self for weak spot in shoulder

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28
9:09
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jonathon Niese faulted himself for what was diagnosed by Mets doctors as scapula-muscle weakness in the back of his left shoulder.

Niese, who missed two months of last season with a rotator-cuff strain, said he concentrated so much on that area of his pitching shoulder during the offseason that he neglected the other muscles. That caused an imbalance of the muscles in his shoulder and resulted in his shoulder blade being tugged at an awkward angle.

After having an MRI and consulting with team doctor David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, Niese returned to camp Friday and said structurally his shoulder is sound. He plans to resume throwing, at least on flat ground, Saturday.

“The MRI revealed that my shoulder this year is actually better than it was last year,” Niese said. “He 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 offseason 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.

“The scap muscles are weak,” Niese continued, “so the shoulder blade is going at an awkward position. That’s relaying up to my shoulder. He said that’s causing some pinching back there. He said that’s probably the discomfort that I’m feeling.”

Niese said he never was alarmed.

“I kind of knew it going in, or had a pretty good feeling going in,” Niese said. “I was feeling kind of a pinch in my shoulder. I just wanted to make sure. A little rehab will work it out.”

Niese is unsure when he will get back on a mound.

“No idea,” he said. “We’re going to discuss that today.”

As for precisely how his scap muscle can get stronger, the southpaw added: “That’s, I guess, up to the physical therapist. He’ll give me some workouts to do. I’m looking forward to getting it strong, because I know my rotator cuff is strong. They did a bunch of tests on that. Like I said, that’s pretty much all I was working on this offseason. I neglected the other things.”

Niese did not express alarm that his Opening Day start on March 31 against the Washington Nationals would be in jeopardy.

“I don’t foresee it being a setback if I get everything strong,” he said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with the [number of Grapefruit League] starts. It’s the pitch count. If I get my pitches up there, then it should be fine.”
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.298 8 43 62
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 19
RBIL. Duda 60
RD. Murphy 62
OPSL. Duda .864
WB. Colon 10
ERAJ. Niese 3.23
SOZ. Wheeler 125