By now everyone knows of the recent injury saga of Noah Syndergaard.
To quickly recap, Syndergaard was scratched from his start last week due to a “tired arm,” which was then diagnosed as biceps tendinitis; refused the team’s request for an MRI; was allowed to start on Sunday by GM Sandy Alderson; was kept in the game despite being hit unusually hard and even grimacing after one pitch; was finally pulled from the game after grabbing his right armpit following the next pitch; was placed on the disabled list with a partially torn lat muscle; and is now out indefinitely, but definitely for at least a couple months and possibly longer. If that’s a lot to digest, don’t worry; it apparently was too much for even the Mets’ medical staff and front office.
The Syndergaard debacle is the latest high-profile mishandling of a player’s injury by Mets management, but it’s nowhere near the first. In 2008 the team put outfielder Ryan Church on a cross-country flight soon after he had suffered his second concussion in three months, let him play and then put him on the DL with post-concussion symptoms.
In 2009 they allowed Jose Reyes to play with a calf strain, which predictably turned into a torn hamstring that ended his season in May. Just last week they kept Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup despite his hamstring visibly hurting during batting practice, only to place him on the DL after he inevitably strained the same hamstring the next day.
The list of bungled injuries goes on and on. Countless Mets have been declared “day-to-day,” only to end up missing weeks, months and even full seasons. One day we hear a Mets player has a paper cut, the next day the team announces he needs Tommy John surgery.
It’s impossible to say for sure whether the Mets have had more or worse injuries than other teams, although that certainly seems to be the case. But what is clear is that the franchise has displayed an unmatched level of incompetence over the last several years in diagnosing, handling and informing on those injuries. Ray Ramirez must have some compromising photos of the Wilpons, because he’s somehow led the worst training staff in sports for over a decade.
Of course, each player has to be held somewhat accountable for his own body. Syndergaard added 17 pounds of muscle this past offseason, prompting former Rangers pitching coach Tom House to say in February that “this is an injury waiting to happen by the second week of June.” Syndergaard should have known better, but if that was obvious to House from afar, why didn’t anyone on the Mets staff check in on their star pitcher and intervene?
Or worse, maybe they did and Syndergaard ignored them, just like he did with the MRI. With the Mets history, could you blame him if that was the case? At this point, I wouldn’t trust the team’s suggestions for treating a mosquito bite.
It makes you wonder whether the Mets well-deserved injury reputation, particularly with their star players, will affect them in free agency going forward. Sure, money is almost always the deciding factor, but if all thing are equal it could easily come into play. In fact, every Mets contract should come with a warning label: Signing here could take years off your career.