By Zach Gewelb
The Mets’ training staff and team doctors confirmed its status as one of the worst units in the league last week with its mishandling of injuries to star players Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard.
The training staff has long been back page fodder for its inability to correctly diagnose injuries and deserves to be criticized for their most recent failures.
Yoenis Cespedes originally missed three games due to a hamstring injury before returning to the starting lineup April 26. The decision to bring him back was approved by team doctors. He re-aggravated the injury the next day and now could miss significant time because he was rushed back to the lineup.
Cespedes is arguably the Mets’ most important player and definitely their most important hitter, so one could see why the team wanted him back on the field. But that decision led to a DL stint and could cost the Mets’ dearly, as there is no timetable for his return.
Then the Mets dropped the ball with Noah Syndergaard’s injury.
The team skipped the ace’s start last week, saying he had a sore bicep and a tired arm. Syndergaard refused an MRI, claiming that he was healthy enough to pitch Sunday against the Nationals.
“I think I know my body best,” Syndergaard told reporters last Friday. “I’m pretty in tune with my body, and that’s exactly why I refused to take the MRI.”
It’s easy to like Syndergaard’s competitive nature and it’s natural to want to trust him when he says he’s good to go, but I can’t think of another team that lets their players refuse an MRI just because they say so.
Trusting their ace, the Mets let Syndergaard pitch Sunday against the Washington Nationals and the results were terrible. He gave up five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings before he had to leave the game with what was being described as an upper body injury.
Syndergaard agreed to an MRI the following day, which revealed a partial tear in his lat muscle. Turns out the injury was serious after all. It’s tough to say if there was a tear all along or if pitching Sunday led to the severity of the injury, but perhaps an earlier MRI would’ve caught the injury and the Mets could’ve shut Syndergaard before it became serious.
Now their ace could be sidelined for up to three months, as he’s be shut down indefinitely.
The mishandling of the injuries to Syndergaard and Cespedes are nothing new in Flushing, as the Mets’ training staff has a notorious reputation for making the wrong calls.
In the past, injuries to Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Jose Reyes were all mishandled, leading to prolonged stints on the disabled list when it was originally thought the players would miss little time.
The failure of the Mets’ training staff could be their undoing this season. First Cespedes, then Syndergaard. Who’s next? Maybe Michael Conforto or Neil Walker will miss a game or two with a minor injury before it’s revealed that they’ll have to miss more time.
Either way, something needs to change. Whether it’s as simple as getting new doctors or forcing players to go in for tests when there’s a possibility of injury, the Mets need to figure it out soon, or 2017 could be another lost season in Flushing.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe