With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to spring training at the end of the week, New York Mets closer Bobby Parnell has announced that he’s two weeks behind his normal schedule after undergoing surgery last September to repair a herniated disk in his neck.
Even under normal circumstances, the Mets would have reason to be concerned after their closer missed the final two months of the previous season and underwent serious surgery on his neck. However, that concern is exacerbated by the fact that the Mets don’t have a lot of reliable depth in their bullpen behind Parnell to make up for him if he’s not back on track by the start of the regular season.
Parnell may be only two weeks behind schedule, but that doesn’t guarantee he’s going to be able to avoid a setback or that he’ll be pitching at the level he was last season by the end of spring training. There is already uncertainty in the Mets’ bullpen, and any setback by Parnell would leave the Mets without a trustworthy closer, adding to their list of concerns in their bullpen heading into the season.
The Mets have tried to sign several veteran relievers to help solidify their bullpen, but the only signing they’ve made has been Kyle Farnsworth, who is a nice player to add but not a viable closer if Parnell has a setback or isn’t ready for the start of the season. Without Parnell the Mets would likely be reliant on the inexperienced Vic Black as their closer while also forcing a group of unproven rookies to contribute to their bullpen.
Parnell is not only the Mets’ closer, but he’s also the lynchpin that gives the bullpen a chance to be a strength instead of a liability. He may only be two weeks behind, but that’s enough to make the Mets concerned about his health and performance heading into the 2014 season.