Year later, Pagan on outside looking in
Second injury keeping Mets outfielder out of Minors rehab
NEW YORK -- He wasn't supposed to play all that much last season. If the Mets had their druthers last year, Angel Pagan would have spent most of time in the dugout, starting a game maybe once a week and playing the late innings. The plan was for Moises Alou to play regularly -- he actually thought he'd get to 125 games -- and provide the kind of timely hits the Mets lacked though most of their 2007 season.
But Alou broke down, and rather than play more than expected, Pagan played far less than he wanted because of his own injuries.
One year ago Thursday, Pagan suffered the first of two injuries that have prevented him from playing since then. He suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder that day in Dodger Stadium, an injury that would require surgery in late July.
Starting in left field in place of Alou, Pagan pressed against the wall in foul territory to catch Andre Ethier's fly ball down the line. Unable to halt his momentum, Pagan instead fell headfirst into the stands. He lay there for a few moments while Mets coaches and trainers came to check on him, but remained in the game and earned an ovation from the crowd. He appeared in games May 11-12 and then was assigned to the disabled list.
Pagan arrived in Spring Training ready to compete with newcomers Jeremy Reed, Bobby Kielty and Cory Sullivan for the fourth outfielder assignment. But after he had played a handful of games, Pagan developed a sharp pain in his right elbow that eventually required more surgery and the removal of a bone spur.
Pagan, who will be 28 in July, will miss significantly more than a year to the two injuries. He has played in a few games in Port St. Lucie, Fla., in extended spring camp. But Pagan still is not ready to resume playing in Minor League games as part of the rehab program.
And even when he is fit to play and ready for a return to the big leagues, chances are there will be no need for him on the Mets' roster. Reed probably would have won the assignment even if Pagan had remained healthy. And now Reed has won a place in manager Jerry Manuel's outfield scheme -- as much as anyone can in 22 appearances, mostly for defense.
Reed is a skilled defender, at least marginally superior to Pagan. And even though Pagan switch-hits and would afford the Mets greater flexibility, he isn't productive enough as a right-handed hitter to make a significant difference in the way he is viewed.
Schneider update: The Mets said catcher Brian Schneider probably won't play in an extended spring game until next week and, after he does, he probably will need to play in a few rehab games in the Minor Leagues.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.