LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Mets' array of spring training injuries graduated from discouraging to impactful Monday, as an examination of lefthanded reliever Tim Byrdak revealed a torn meniscus in his left knee. Byrdak will have surgery Tuesday at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery and Mets general manager Sandy Alderson offered a "guesstimate" that the 38-year-old will be out for six weeks.
No team can get by without at least one lefthander in the bullpen; hence the disappointment of Mets officials.
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"I would suspect we still would have a lefthander in the bullpen," Alderson said yesterday at Joker Marchant Stadium, where the Mets tied the Tigers, 7-7, in 10 innings. "We're a little better situated with lefthanders this spring than we were last spring. That doesn't mean we won't miss Tim. But we do have a number of options this year that we didn't have last year."
Among those options are Robert Carson, Josh Edgin and Daniel Herrera, all of whom pitched yesterday, plus Chuck James and Garrett Olson. Moreover, the Mets are negotiating with former Met and Yankee C.J. Nitkowski and likely will sign him to a minor-league deal.
"We won't make a decision for probably another couple of days or so," Alderson said of Nitkowski.
Nitkowski, 39, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2005, but he impressed the Mets in a throwing session last week. The team is going over the details of his 2011 shoulder surgery, a procedure involving stem cells like the operation that sparked Bartolo Colon's resurgence with the Yankees last year.
Carson and Herrera each threw a shutout inning Monday, with Carson allowing one hit and Herrera a hit and a walk. Edgin, 25, learned on the bus ride to Lakeland that he officially had been promoted to major-league camp. He proceeded to allow a game-tying hit to Detroit lefty hitter Andy Dirks in the eighth inning (although Rob Johnson failed to catch Dirks' foul pop-up before that) and then threw a shutout ninth.
Edgin hasn't pitched above high Class A ball, but Collins said: "A guy like . . . not intimidated, not scared, he's got a great arm. In the role we'd use him in, I think he'd be able to handle it."
While saying he'd have "no fear" over such a drastic jump, Edgin added: "You're always concentrating, but these guys are in Double-A, Triple-A and the majors for a reason. There's a little more learning to it."
Byrdak signed with the Mets before the 2011 season and performed capably as the club's lone lefthander in the late innings. He led the team with 72 appearances, totaling 372/3 innings, and recorded a 3.82 ERA, striking out 47 and walking 19. He faced 110 lefty batters and limited them to a .222 batting average, .271 on-base percentage and .333 slugging percentage.
"I've had guys who have come back faster than that from that surgery," Collins said. "Once they get in and remove the meniscus, I think we'll have more facts on it. I wouldn't be surprised if he's back faster than that."