The New York Mets caught a rare break yesterday with the news that starting pitcher Jon Niese would not require surgery on his shoulder; instead, he has been cleared to throw and begin a rehab program.
The Mets have been holding their breath since Niese landed on the disabled list after abruptly leaving his start against the Atlanta Braves three weeks ago, but they got the best news possible on Monday regarding their Opening Day starter.
When Niese was first put on the disabled list, he was diagnosed with a partially torn rotator cuff, an injury that had the potential to be serious and would keep him on the shelf for an extended period of time if it required surgery.
Niese isn’t having a great season, but he is an integral part of the Mets’ future; with a strong corps of young right-handed power pitchers led by Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler, the Mets will need a lefty to create some balance in their starting rotation. After signing him to a five-year contract this offseason, the Mets are betting on Niese to be that lefty.
If Niese were forced to have surgery to fix his shoulder, it would have kept him out of the Mets’ rotation for a while and put in doubt whether he’d be able to recapture the form he’s had over the past few seasons. At this stage in the rebuilding process, the Mets are relying on Niese to be an important part of their team. With the news that he doesn’t need shoulder surgery, the Mets can still plan on him being a reliable part of their rotation in both the near and distant future.
Obviously, Niese’s shoulder isn’t perfect, but all indications are that it has the normal amount of wear and tear one would expect to find on a major league pitcher. The Mets won’t know his true status or how soon they can expect him back until he begins throwing, but just knowing that he doesn’t need surgery is a reason for the team to breathe a sigh of relief.