SAN FRANCISCO - The Mets received encouraging news Monday about lefthander Jonathon Niese, who has been cleared by doctors to begin throwing.
An initial MRI exam revealed what doctors believed to be a small tear in Niese's rotator cuff. However, doctors revised their assessment after a follow-up exam and MRI Monday showed nothing more than typical wear and tear.
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Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said the original MRI was obscured by inflammation and fluid in Niese's shoulder.
"The new MRI showed the inflammation was gone, the fluid was out of his shoulder,'' Ricco said. "The way the doctors termed it, he has normal wear and tear on his shoulder. But otherwise, it looks pretty good.''
The Mets set no date for Niese's return though they expect the 26-year-old to be back before season's end. "It depends on how long it takes him to get stretched out,'' Ricco said. "It will be a few weeks before he gets on a mound . . . but we do expect him to be back this year.''
Niese, the Mets' Opening Day starter, is 3-6 with a 4.32 ERA. But he has complained of various nagging physical issues that have taken a toll on his effectiveness. "I had all the confidence that Jon Niese would pitch again this summer,'' manager Terry Collins said. "I talked to him the other day. He felt great.''
The Mets expect a diagnosis Tuesday on righthander Shaun Marcum, who was examined in St. Louis Monday by nerve specialist Robert Thompson. Marcum has complained of numbness in his right arm.
"Dr. Thompson is one of the top guys in the country,'' Ricco said.