MILWAUKEE — Before the Mets’ game on Wednesday in New York, closer Jeurys Familia told trainers for the first time about a tingling sensation in the ring finger of his right hand. He mentioned it only in passing, and insisted it would not affect him on the mound, general manager Sandy Alderson said. So the righthander was cleared to pitch.
Just 48 hours later, Familia was laying on a surgeon’s table in St. Louis, where he had a blood clot removed from near his armpit.
If Familia makes it back this season, it won’t happen until near the end, Alderson said. That leaves the Mets scrambling once more to reshuffle a bullpen that is more vulnerable without one of baseball’s top closers.
“We do believe that this is something that’s going to keep him out several months,” Alderson said. “And it’s possible that he’ll be back by the end of the year. It’s possible that he won’t.”
Familia was an All-Star last season, when he set a franchise record with 51 saves. He began this year on a 15-game suspension for violating baseball’s domestic-violence policy. He had not blown a save this season until Wednesday, when the Giants scored four runs off him in what became a 6-5 loss.
Familia’s clot is the latest calamity to slam the Mets, who are also without ace Noah Syndergaard until after the All-Star break.
Manager Terry Collins said setup man Addison Reed will slide back into the closer’s role as he did to begin the season with Familia on suspension. But the rest of the bullpen hierarchy will be based on matchups, with lefty specialist Jerry Blevins expected to take on a more expanded role.
“We’ve got the guys down there,” Collins said. “It’s about them taking the challenge and stepping up and meeting that challenge.”
Entering Friday, Mets relievers had logged 126 innings this season, the fifth highest total in the National League. But Collins said shorter bullpen outings lately have eased some of the stress.
“They’re not overly taxed right now,” Collins said. “They’ve had some days off and some rest and they haven’t thrown a lot. They were taxed for awhile but I think we’re back pretty much in a safe situation.”
Nevertheless, Alderson said the Mets may once again add an extra reliever to the bullpen and mentioned examining internal options.
Lefty Josh Smoker was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas this week after making the Opening Day bullpen. He could be an option to return.
The Mets will also keep an eye out for trade possibilities, though it’s early in the season for such additions.