One of my good friends recently asked her husband how it was possible that young, fit pitchers like Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell get injured, whereas overweight players like Bartolo Colon and David Wells usually remained unscathed. Her husband quoted the late great Ralph Kiner and responded, “It’s like Ralph said, ‘You can’t pull fat.’”
Seriously, though, what is up with the Mets and injuries? Oh, sure, all teams have them, but it’s still April and the Mets already have had 60% of their starting pitching staff (Harvey, Mejia, and Niese) on the DL, with Harvey most likely out for the season and rotation contender Jeremy Hefner also recovering from that same affliction. Mets closer Bobby Parnell had Tommy John surgery, and is definitely out for the season. Add to this list one of the few players who was actually hitting consistently Juan Lagares (pulled right hamstring), and it’s frustrating to say the least.
The Mets’ medical staff is embattled and taking shots from players past and present. And, it’s not as if it’s a secret. Former Mets pitcher John Maine (remember the Maine?) was very open in his disdain for the Mets medical team. When talking about his last injury while he was still a Met, Maine told The New York Times, “My shoulder was being held together with duct tape at the time. They knew everything that was going on. They all knew. It was obvious. You don’t go from throwing 94 to 84 miles an hour. They knew my condition. I was 100 percent upfront about it; I didn’t lie about it. At the time it wasn’t so much pain, I just didn’t have anything.”
When asked about John Maine’s comments, pitching coach Dan Warthen called Maine “a habitual liar.” Not cool, Dan, even if it was the truth — you reduced a serious discussion about one of your starting pitchers into a childish round of pointing figures and “who said what.”
Who could forget Carlos Beltran? Concerned about his knee and after first consulting with the Mets medical staff, Beltran asked if he could get a second opinion. The Mets agreed, but reportedly asked him to hold off on surgery until he could get a third opinion. Dr. Richard Steadman was the second opinion, and told Carlos he should have the surgery. Beltran ignored the Mets wishes to wait and get a third opinion. He opted to have surgery immediately. Immediately. What does this say about his opinion of the Mets doctors?
Add to this the injuries that are reported to the fans as “not serious” but in actuality are season-enders. Think Jose Reyes in 2009. Think Ike Davis in 2011. All teams have injured players, it’s part of the game. A lot of it is bad luck, too. (Valley Fever, anyone)? The question is why are the Mets injuries usually “mysterious” — a veritable litany of vague strains or pulls that get worse instead of better? What kind of conditioning regime are these players following? Is it too strenuous or not strenuous enough?
There’s no simple solution. But I do know that if the people I worked with at my job were as unhappy with my performance as Mets players seem to be with their medical staff, I wouldn’t still be employed. Perhaps a change is in order. It’s surprising to me that season-after-season, the players change, yet the Mets medical staff remains pretty much intact. Why?
If the Mets insist on keeping their same medical team my advice would be to start serving the players more bacon and cheesy fries in the Mets clubhouse. Because, after all, “you can’t pull fat.”