For the second time this spring, New York Mets pitcher Jon Niese will undergo an MRI after leaving Sunday’s Spring Training game with elbow discomfort. Niese had an MRI on his shoulder early in spring and was ruled to be fine, but for Niese to be removed for elbow pain in his second spring start is a major concern for the Mets.
Niese said early in spring that he spent much of the offseason trying to strengthen his shoulder after missing time with a partially torn rotator cuff in 2013, and as a result, the rest of his arm may not be as strong as it needs to be, leading to elbow pain. Niese has called the injury a hyperextension of the elbow, something he says was rehabbing. This could point to this injury being something Niese could come back from in a relatively brief period amount of time, but the Mets won’t rest easy until the MRI reveals for certain that the elbow pain isn’t something that could lead to Tommy John surgery.
Even if the MRI on Niese’s elbow comes back clean, after being removed from his second spring start two weeks before the start of the season, there’s no chance that Niese will be ready for opening day. If Niese has to start the season on the disabled list, it could clear up the Mets’ fifth starter competition, as at least two pitchers from the group of John Lannan, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jenrry Mejia could start the season in the rotation.
However, while the Mets could survive a short-term injury to Niese because they have good pitching depth and several young pitching prospects who could step into the rotation if needed, the Mets can’t afford to have him miss a significant period of time, as they are already without Matt Harvey and Jeremy Hefner this season and relying a lot on the elderly Bartolo Colon. That is why Niese leaving Sunday’s game with an elbow injury is a major concern for the Mets and could potentially be a damaging blow to their 2014 season.