Despite more injuries, Mets blank Cards
The Mets had their starting pitcher collapse on the mound while throwing a warmup pitch yesterday and leave the game in the arms of two trainers. They had their leftfielder pull up lame after hitting a single and immediately walk into the dugout and down the tunnel to the clubhouse.Their second baseman, who fell down the dugout steps the night before and sprained his ankle, was not available. Gary Sheffield, the leftfielder, and Luis Castillo, the second baseman, may play again sometime soon. Jon Niese, the pitcher, will not be in uniform again until spring training. Niese suffered a complete tear of the right upper hamstring tendon in the second inning of the Mets’ 9-0 victory over the Cardinals. He will have surgery to repair it, the Mets said in a release last night.
It all started in the second inning when Niese collapsed while attempting a warmup pitch after an awkward play at first base. The crowd at Citi Field gasped as the 22-year-old lefthander crumpled in agony as his right leg gave out on the follow-through. Niese went down and put his arm over his face; it looked so frightening that pitcher Nelson Figueroa said he started “saying a little prayer” in the bullpen. “We should be pretty used to it by now,” said David Wright. “We’re certainly working our training and medical staff to the bone.” Niese had covered first base on the back end of an attempted 3-6-1 double play on a ball hit by Joe Thurston. He stretched both legs in a split while catching the throw; his left foot touched the base, but too late to record the out. Niese went back to the mound in discomfort as manager Jerry Manuel, trainer Ray Ramirez and assistant trainer Mike Herbst came out. The efficiency of Mets’ training staff has been called into question many times over the last few seasons; the Mets have always defended their medicos. But was it really necessary for the Mets to let their prized pitching prospect attempt a warmup pitch when he admitted feeling something in his hamstring? “When he went to first base he said it kind of ‘stretched’ it a little bit,” Manuel said. “He was continuing to tell Mike Herbst that he was OK . . . He felt he could make a pitch. But obviously it didn’t fare too well.” Niese lay on the mound for a few minutes before he got up and was helped off the field by Ramirez and Herbst. He did not put any weight on his right leg and left the stadium for an extended stay at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Figueroa (1-2), who allowed 10 hits and six runs in 1 2/3 innings in a start on Monday, threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief. Bobby Parnell followed with three more. Wright and Angel Pagan homered as the Mets banged out 15 hits. The Mets lost Sheffield in the sixth after he hit what should have been a double to the wall in left-center. Sheffield, who only returned from the disabled list on Sunday, rounded first and stopped before leaving the field with tightness in his right hamstring. Sheffield is – wait for it – day-to-day, as is Castillo, who sprained his ankle on a glove left on a dugout step on Wednesday. The Mets already have nine players on the disabled list. Niese will make 10 today. “It’s been a difficult time for us,” Manuel said. “But we still have to continue to play baseball.” Niese was making his fifth start of the season for the Mets. He will finish it 1-1 with a 4.21 ERA.