The New York Mets flew left-hander Jonathon Niese back to New York City on Wednesday for an MRI exam after he told manager Terry Collins that his left shoulder felt "dead." The good news: It's in a different part of the shoulder than the rotator cuff, which gave Niese trouble in 2013.
The Mets already have lost right-hander Matt Harvey for the season (probably) because of Tommy John elbow ligament reconstruction surgery. They've also added Bartolo Colon to a rotation that also was to include Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee, with Jenrry Mejia, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lannan and Carlos Torres competing for the fifth spot.
Regarding Niese, Collins gave an "it is what it is" kind of quote to MLB.com:
Collins said that Niese has experienced "a little bit of pain" in his left triceps since reporting to camp. The left-hander missed eight weeks last season with a partially-torn left rotator cuff, which he rehabbed non-surgically. His latest bout of discomfort is in a different part of the shoulder.
Niese first reported pain early in camp, prompting the Mets to limit him to long-toss. When the left-hander climbed back upon a mound this week he initially felt fine, but the second half of his latest live batting practice session resulted in pain. The Mets decided around noon Wednesday to fly Niese to New York for testing.
"He just said he's got a little discomfort in there," Collins said, "so we're going to have a look."
The whole "flying back to New York" part is a little ominous — Niese could get an MRI anywhere near where the Mets train in Florida — but it's best for him to be seen by specialists. Still, it's worrisome.
Niese's best season was 2012 when he made 30 starts and posted a 3.40 ERA with 155 strikeouts in 190 1/3 innings. His career 3.99 ERA is a little below average when adjusted to factor in the wide expanses of Citi Field. He definitely an important contributor.
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