The news, at first blush, isn’t good. The Mets placed Jose Reyes on the DL this afternoon; ESPN reports that he’ll need to rest his injured hamstring for three weeks, to maximize the possibility of a quick recovery.
But the reality is, players are going to get hurt. What has been infuriating with Met injuries through the past few years is a the combination of no coherent plan for treating the injury, and irregular information regarding that treatment. A player is out for a fixed time, then he’s on the field, then he’s going to take batting practice, then he’s not running for a day, etc. The result, especially in the case of Reyes, has been to exacerbate the injuries he’s already had.
Two examples: the one often cited in 2009, when the Mets claimed a misdiagnosis from the Dodgers’ doctor led them to an incorrect course of action. This has taken hold in the popular imagination, even though The New York Times reported that the Dodgers had given the Mets the correct information, and had documentation to back this up. Regardless, the Mets chose not to proceed cautiously, with the result that Reyes missed the remainder of the season. In fact, the team elected not to stop him from attempting to come back for merely the final weekend of the 2009 season; from what I gather, their whispering about Reyes’ slow recovery led directly to the pointless move.
Less cited, but just as irritating, is the 2010 decision to let Jose Reyes play with an unhealed oblique muscle issue, even with the direct knowledge that it still hurt to swing from the left side. It took David Wright to pull Jose Reyes from the game. No one with more responsibility did so.
This time around, the Mets diagnosed the problem, sent him for an MRI immediately (another seemingly obvious choice the Mets avoided in the past), provided daily updates, often from GM Sandy Alderson himself, explained why the team decided to wait three days to DL him (to see if doctors believed he’d be ready for the series against Philadelphia next week), and once that possibility was extinguished, disabled him.
It may not seem like much, but it gives the Mets the best possible chance to limit the impact of injuries. It is no cure-all, as the cautious path with Ike Davis has proven. My suspicion is that Sandy Alderson, rather than dismiss the medical team, wanted to see their performance with a front office that took the doctors’ advice, moved quickly and prudently to protect players, and then evaluate them at season’s end.
Certainly, the moment earlier this year when David Wright, after three weeks with no setbacks, was told he’d need another three weeks of rest, wasn’t a good one for the medical staff. Alderson’s annoyance at receiving incorrect information was palpable, and he made no effort to hide it. That the boot given to Ike Davis resulted in further complications won’t go unnoticed by Alderson, either.
But it has simply been impossible to evaluate the medical staff of the New York Mets, since so often the players were allowed to dictate their own returns. And Major League Baseball players want to be on the field- they reached this level of competition by doing everything possible to excel. Jose Reyes is no exception.
So it is a shame that for the next three weeks, Jose Reyes won’t be playing baseball. But it is also a sign that the new management team is handling injuries right.