- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins admitted Tuesday that the team probably overused reliever Tim Byrdak, who has an anterior capsule tear in his left shoulder, and that usage played a role in Byrdak's injury.
The lefty leads MLB with 56 appearances this year and has pitched in 128 games over the past two seasons.
"I don't think there's any question (usage may have caused injury). Injuries are caused by overuse. And doctors have told me that when they're going to break, they're going to break. There's not much you can really do about it," Collins said Tuesday. "And Tim's been the one guy who has taken great care of himself, takes great care of his arm, doesn't overthrow. Even pregame stuff, he tenders the amount of throwing he does before a game.
"It's just the fact that he was in that role that he was where he had to go out there a lot. There's no question we probably used him more than we should have. But we also wouldn't be here without him."
Byrdak served as the lone lefty in the Mets bullpen for most of the season and Collins had no problems going to him to get big outs. The lefty had thrown 30 2/3 innings in 56 games, pitching to a 4.40 ERA. Byrdak had complained of shoulder soreness and was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 2. A treatment plan has not been finalized yet for the 38-year-old, but he may need surgery.
Fellow Mets pitchers Johan Santana and Chris Young both tore their anterior capsules and both underwent surgery that sidelined them for extensive amounts of time. Santana missed all of the 2011 season following his surgery in September 2010, while Young missed more than a year after undergoing surgery in May 2011. Both have pitched well since their surgeries, although that's usually not the case.
Considering both Santana and Young opted for surgery and had to miss a year, this could be possibly be a career-threatening injury for the lefty, who turns 39 in October. Byrdak has played for six teams in his 11-year career and is 13-13 with a 4.30 ERA. He's on a one-year deal with the Mets.
"I certainly feel terrible for him," Collins said. "He's done nothing in the last two years except take the baseball and gone out and gotten big outs for us. I just hope that he comes out of it OK and can resume pitching."
This isn't the first time the Mets have had a left-handed reliever lead the league in appearances and eventually feel repercussions. Current Yankee Pedro Feliciano pitched for the Mets from 2002-10 and led the league in appearances in his final three seasons in Flushing. He pitched in a combined 266 games from 2008-10, appearing in at least 86 games each season.
Feliciano signed a two-year, $8-milliondeal with the Yankees before the 2011 seasons and has yet to pitch for them as he tore a capsule in his left shoulder. He underwent surgery on his left rotator cuff last September and Yankees manager Joe Girardi mentioned that Feliciano's career could be over. Feliciano turns 36 later this month and likely will never pitch for the Yankees.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman blasted the Mets for their usage of Feliciano shortly after the Yankees placed Feliciano on the disabled list in April 2011.
"He was abused," Cashman said last April. "It's a thin market when you're looking for lefties and he's one of the better ones out there. But you don't typically got after a guy who's been used like that.
"The use pattern was abusive."
Matt Ehalt is a frequent contributor to ESPNNewYork.com