Niese said he felt pain in his pitching shoulder each time he delivered a pitch to Tyler Pastornicky in the fourth inning Thursday. He also noticed a drop in his velocity as his shoulder felt "really weak."
So after wincing while delivering his 61st pitch, Niese motioned toward the dugout. Assistant trainer Brian Chicklo, manager Terry Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen came to the mound.
"My shoulder hurts," Niese told Collins, according to the manager. Said Collins: "You're gone."
Niese departed without attempting a warm-up pitch.
The Mets called up submariner Greg Burke to take Niese's roster spot.
After the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 4-3 in the rubber game of the five-game series at Turner Field, Niese returned to New York to be examined by team doctors Friday.
"I felt pain on every pitch," Niese said. "It wasn't worth it."
Niese had been battling what the team has labeled shoulder tendinitis for several weeks, even missing a start while avoiding the disabled list. The southpaw downplayed current concern, saying an initial exam by a doctor at Turner Field -- without an MRI or other imaging -- did not locate anything alarming.
"When it bothers you on a night when it's nice and warm, I'm a little concerned," Collins said Thursday.
After Niese departed, the bullpen tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings.
The injury also unintentionally resolves the Mets' rotation surplus. The Mets had temporarily adopted a six-man rotation with top prospect Zack Wheeler making his major league debut earlier this week.
Collins recently had suggested one motivation for the six-man rotation was to get extra rest between starts for Niese and right-hander Dillon Gee, who has dealt with elbow tendinitis.