Wright flies to New York for rib cage exam
Slugger latest Met with core injury, could get cortisone shot
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets third baseman David Wright flew to New York on Sunday for an examination and possible cortisone injection in his left rib cage, in an episode emblematic of the core injury issues plaguing the team this spring.
The Mets also sent left-handed reliever Tim Byrdak to New York for an examination of his stiff left knee, and he will have surgery Tuesday to repair a torn meniscus.
More immediately troubling is the status of Wright, whom the Mets had already planned to keep sidelined until at least next weekend. General manager Sandy Alderson classified it as "possible, maybe even likely," that Wright will receive an ultrasound-guided cortisone shot in his left rib cage, where he has experienced stiffness for more than a week.
"We'll just have to see what the doctor says," Alderson said.
Originally, Wright and Byrdak were to receive examinations from team physician Dr. Struan Coleman in Florida. But given the likelihood that either or both players would need advanced treatment, the Mets opted to send them to New York instead.
Wright's injury is representative of the core issues that have plagued the Mets throughout the first three weeks of Spring Training, prompting the team to re-evaluate some of its daily conditioning procedures. Already, Wright, outfielders Lucas Duda, Scott Hairston and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, second baseman Reese Havens and pitchers Robert Carson and Daniel Herrera have all missed time due to oblique, lower back or intercostal strains.
Hairston's left oblique strain is so severe that he may miss Opening Day. Havens' lower back injury has kept him off the practice field for nearly two weeks. Nieuwenhuis and Herrera are recent additions to the core injury club, with Carson and Duda already healed.
"I'm trying to write the lineup for [Monday], and I keep scratching guys off the trip," Collins bemoaned after Sunday's rain-shortened loss to the Marlins.
At Collins' command, the Mets have cut down the number of swings they take in batting practice each day in an attempt to reduce strain on their core muscles. Collins has also urged his players to take their morning stretching more seriously, and is looking into the effects of coffee and energy drinks on their hydration.
"I think it's a combination of everything," Collins said, noting that modern players may make themselves more susceptible to injuries by doing too much upper-body work in the weight room. "This didn't happen 20 years ago. I never knew anybody who had an oblique issue 20 years ago.
"Now, the whole focus is core, core, core, and we have blowup, blowup, blowup. The strength guys are doing the best they can to keep everybody going. It's important to have a strong core. I understand that. But if that's the case, then we've got to back off the workload."
Collins is still optimistic regarding Wright, who is "real close to doing baseball activities" despite the likelihood of a cortisone shot. But Hairston received three cortisone shots of his own last week and has since expressed frustration at his body's slow response. Core injuries in general are notoriously slow to heal; Wright missed more than two months last summer with a stress fracture in his lower back.
"You better believe it's troubling," Collins said. "And we have no answers."
Wright, who was already on his way to New York following Sunday's game, was unavailable to comment.
From a certain perspective, this is all nothing new. The day after last season ended, Alderson vowed to re-examine the Mets' training and medical staffs, which have endured varying degrees of criticism since the team's injury-ravaged 2009 season. Ultimately, Alderson decided not to recommend any changes.
Now, slightly less than halfway through Spring Training, 12 of the 54 players in big league camp have missed time with some sort of injury, not counting the two pitchers already rehabbing from surgeries. Seven of those 12 have endured core injuries. And the most prominent of those seven is awaiting an update on his status in New York, leaving the Mets wondering what -- if anything -- they can do differently.
"Nobody's pointing fingers at one thing here," Collins said. "We're all involved in it. That's why we're hopefully resting them now, and doing the best we can to make sure that they're rested now -- so that in two weeks when we really start to speed up, they're fine."