The Mets got some great news Monday when the team announced that MRI results on Jon Niese showed that there was no structural damage in his shoulder besides some ordinary wear and tear. Once you start delving into the world of tears in rotator cuffs, no matter how small, you’re headed into some dangerous territory.
Niese was cleared by doctors to begin a throwing program in Port St. Lucie, a good sign that means he’s not far from being back on the mound. As said, there’s no real structural damage, so his rehab will be based on his tolerance and how he feels more than anything else. I don’t think a mid-August projection is too far from feasible.
That being said, it’s absolutely crucial that the Mets don’t rush Niese along just so he can come back two or three weeks sooner than somebody says he should. While there was only a minor strain and no tears, the last thing this team needs are for there to be any setbacks with a guy who will be one of the rotation’s staples for years to come.
Maybe in another organization, this wouldn’t even be an issue. Niese would be given plenty of time and he would be back not when the front office wanted him back, not when a manager wanted him back, but when HE was ready to be back.
However, it’s in my nature as a Mets fan to be skeptical. It’s vital that he is pressured by absolutely NO ONE to come back any sooner than when he is feeling 110%. If he’s not feeling awesome in August, I don’t care what an MRI says. He can not go out there until he says he’s ready. If it means he doesn’t pitch again the whole year, I wouldn’t mind one bit.
Let’s be honest; this team probably won’t be contending in August. While a rotation without Niese might be tough to watch for the remainder of the year, it would be even more brutal in a few years saying, “maybe we shouldn’t have rushed him back from that shoulder injury in 2013”. We’re paying him until (at least) 2016; we’d best be damn sure he is as healthy as possible.
It’s awesome that there’s nothing horrible going on in Niese’s shoulder, but there’s no reason the Mets can’t be protective (if not overprotective) of him. If this team is serious about contending next year, which is how it’s been looking lately, Niese is going to be a huge part of the puzzle. If that means this year’s puzzle may be missing a piece for longer than expected, then so be it.