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Mets' Niese survives another injury scare

The SportsXchange

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Another week, another scare, another sigh of relief for Jon Niese.

The Mets' presumptive Opening Day starter flew back to New York on March 17 for a second MRI exam, this time on his left (pitching) elbow. The results came back negative, revealing only inflammation in the joint.

That test came three weeks after Niese had an MRI exam on his left shoulder, which was also causing him discomfort. He believes trying to overthrow while recovering from that injury may have caused his latest malady.

"All of a sudden mechanically you go the wrong way one time, and all of a sudden it pinches and it's irritated," Niese said. "One thing I'm going to try to stop looking at this spring is the radar gun and just go by feel, because I know if I feel good, the velocity is going to be there."

Though Niese should begin throwing again during the week of March 17-23, his Opening Day start may be in jeopardy. If the Mets decide to take it slow with Niese, manager Terry Collins said he would use either right-hander Dillon Gee or right-hander Bartolo Colon instead on March 31 against the Washington Nationals.

Even if Niese begins the year on the disabled list, he could return for the Mets' sixth game of the year April 6, the first time they will need a fifth starter.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Noah Syndergaard was optioned to minor league camp March 18 after a spring that saw him post a 5.19 ERA in four games. As with RHP Matt Harvey two years ago and RHP Zack Wheeler last summer, the demotion of Syndergaard was a foregone conclusion due to financial and service-time considerations. Syndergaard is in line to make his big-league debut around June.

--LHP John Lannan is a strong bet to make the major league bullpen, particularly with LHP Jon Niese injured. By carrying Lannan, the Mets would not only have a second lefty in the bullpen to compliment Scott Rice, but they also would insure themselves against a lingering Niese injury. Lannan was pitching primarily in the rotation this spring.

--INF Wilmer Flores will receive significant time at shortstop at Triple-A Las Vegas, assuming he does not make the major league team, according to manager Terry Collins. Before this spring, Flores had not played shortstop regularly since 2011, but he started several games there in recent weeks. The Mets want to continue using him at shortstop and second base after he spent much of the past two years at third.

--SS Ruben Tejada struggled all spring long, and through March 18, he had more errors (four) than hits (three). Regardless, GM Sandy Alderson reiterated his stance that the Mets are not serious suitors for free agent SS Stephen Drew.

--LHP Jon Niese flew back to New York City for an MRI on his left shoulder. The test came back negative, and Niese plans to resume throwing during the week of March 17-22. He could miss Opening Day, but should not skip more than one regular-season start.

--1B Ike Davis had not played in a Grapefruit League game in three weeks, but could appear in one as soon as Thursday. Davis, who is battling sore calves, was receiving at-bats in minor league games, though he was not running the bases.

--1B Lucas Duda was out of Grapefruit League action since the first week of games, but could return as soon as Thursday. Duda is recovering from a strained left hamstring.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The message was: 'We'll see you soon,' basically. That's all they said. It's a good thing to hear." -- RHP Noah Syndergaard, on his demotion.
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