By Zach Gewelb
With all the talk about the Mets getting Noah Syndergaard and Yoneis Cespedes back after the All-Star break, their fans may have dreamed about turning the season around. Instead, the most Mets thing happened to the club once again.
Syndergaard, who was activated right before the break, lasted two starts before returning to the disabled list. The reason? Not because his previous finger injury flared up. But because he exhibited symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease, a viral illness that normally affects children younger than 5 years old. The team believes he was exposed to the virus at a children’s baseball camp in New Jersey.
Syndergaard started Friday against the Yankees and lasted just five innings. He was removed after demonstrating a noticeable drop in velocity with his fastball and sinker.
“During the game, he didn’t quite figure it out. He knew he had trouble breathing,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “I put my hands on his legs to talk to him when he came out and said, ‘Hey, man. Is everything OK?’ And I felt his leg shaking. So he was just weak and run-down, and I think the virus just took its toll.”
Syndergaard’s return was short lived and he’s now back on the DL. With a children’s disease. Man, you really can’t make this stuff up.
Meanwhile, Cespedes returned with a bang, slugging a home run Friday in his first game back from the disabled list. After the game, Cespedes claimed that calcification on both heels has bothered him for more than a decade and caused the lower-body injuries that have limited him since signing a four-year $110 million contract with the Mets.
It turns out that would be his only game back, as the club placed him on the DL Tuesday. He and the team elected for surgery on both feet, which would require an eight-to-10-month recovery.
Cespedes had an MRI and was examined by a foot specialist Monday in an effort to ascertain whether he should have the operations.
So Cespedes, like Syndergaard, is back on the DL, and the Mets’ reputation of mishandling their injured players continued.
Syndergaard’s newest ailment is something that really couldn’t be prevented by the team. He was working with kids and got sick. Something like that, however unlikely, can happen to any player on any team. But it didn’t happen to another team’s player. It happened to Syndergaard and the Mets.
And if Cespedes has been dealing with heel problems for all these years and team doctors never diagnosed the injury, or if Cespedes never told anyone, that is something that falls solely on the Mets. Cespedes has spent enough time with team doctors and both sides had every opportunity to find and treat his heels. Instead, the injury slipped under the radar, and now the Mets will pay the price.
We’ve seen this kind of story before with the club, and if the 2018 season has told us anything, it’s that these are indeed the same old Mets.
Reach reporter Zach Gewelb by e-mail at zgewe