MIAMI — For Taijuan Walker and the Mets, the miracle of modern medicine extends to those painful, inconvenient bubbly spots that are oh so common for pitchers.
A blister forced Walker out of his most recent outing about an inning earlier than he probably otherwise would have finished. But he is good to go for his scheduled start Sunday against the Marlins — in part, he said, because of the extensive work the medical/training staff did on that spot.
There is popping, draining, waxing, shaving and lasering. All that leads to pitching.
“You gotta make sure your nails are good too,” Walker said. “It’s a whole other routine that we have to do, as guys who get blisters.”
And Walker is, for sure, a guy who gets blisters. He said they pop up “every start,” but usually not as bad as the one this week. It was raw skin and ended up getting under the nail of his right index finger, so he had trouble with his splitter and slider, especially.
As recently as a decade ago, when pitching coach Jeremy Hefner was a pitcher, the approach to the ensuing days would have been dramatically different. But blister management has come a long way since then.
“You used to cut it open, let it dry out and throw with a Band-Aid on,” Hefner said. “The human body is an incredible machine. When things are abnormal, the human body — a lot of times — will take care of itself. I think that’s what we’ve kind of learning about blisters. The body will heal them.”
So now they don’t rip it off. They just treat it. The popping and draining gets the liquid out. Laser treatment is something the Mets do all over players’ bodies because it “promotes blood flow to that area,” Hefner said. And the wax helps it heal while the pitcher isn’t pitching.
“When you blister, it creates rough skin around the blister, so the waxing helps soften that rough skin, which allows the skin to heal over — as opposed to if you catch it on something, even just putting your pants on, it could worsen the blister,” Hefner said. “It helps smooth out that whole area so the healing can take place. Just trying to create an environment of healing.”
Starling Marte neither threw nor swung Friday afternoon, he said, three days after suffering a fracture in his right middle finger. His finger remained swollen and did not appear particularly movable. It was heavily wrapped as he participated lightly in pregame drills.
Saturday looms as a potential IL decision day, because the Mets would be able to backdate his stint to Wednesday (meaning he would have to be on the 10-day IL for only a week).
“You could make that case,” manager Buck Showalter said. “You just did. And I would tend to agree with it.”
Marte expressed a willingness to serve as a pinch runner. Showalter said he would consider that but wanted to be cautious, so that the minor fracture doesn’t become a major one.
“He’s a good player worth waiting on, obviously, so we will if we’re able to project when it’s going to be OK,” Showalter said.
Other injury updates
Tylor Megill (strained right shoulder) was scheduled to pitch an inning with Triple-A Syracuse on Friday, then an inning-plus on Tuesday. And then he might return to the Mets. He estimated previously that he’d make four or five rehab appearances, and early next week will be his fifth.
Luis Guillorme (strained left groin) is due back “very early” in the homestand that begins Monday, Showalter said. Syracuse manager Kevin Boles pulled him after six innings Thursday after what Showalter called that team’s “little skirmish” with Rochester, the Nationals’ affiliate.
“Nice going, Kevin,” Showalter said, not sarcastically. “He’s trying to keep [Guillorme] from getting (too involved). I don’t know if Luis is — eh, Luis probably is a fighter.”
Trevor May, who is on the COVID-related injured list, now isn’t expected back until at least Monday. Showalter had previously hoped for a weekend comeback. But the Mets don’t expect May to need a minor-league tune-up beforehand.
Drew Smith (strained right lat) is due to begin a rehab assignment Saturday.
Francisco Lindor, Mark Canha and Showalter separately said they supported the rule changes MLB announced it will implement in 2023: a pitch clock, shift restrictions and larger bases. Max Scherzer asked to wait a day before he commented. Showalter said he hopes an automated strike zone is next, predicting it would arrive in the majors in 2024. “Never confuse change with a lack of respect for tradition,” he added . . . Righthander Adonis Medina cleared waivers. The Mets sent him to Syracuse . . . Asked how his previously stiff neck is doing, Joely Rodriguez offered a thumbs-up and whipped his head around wildly. So he seemed to be OK.