Terry Collins barked the words quickly and abruptly, forced to say something he didn’t want to say and that he didn’t wish was true.
“Noah Syndergaard is seeing the doctor,” he said yesterday, already rising from the platform where he holds his postgame news conferences. “His [right] elbow flared up on him. That’s why I took him out of the game.”
And then Collins left the room, leaving a dozen unanswered questions. The foremost being: Is the pitcher they call Thor a mere mortal, after all?
It was supposed to be a good day for the Mets. Matt Reynolds, making his first professional start in leftfield, hit his first major-league homer in the sixth, the go-ahead shot in a 4-3 win over the Royals and a sweep of the two-game series. Asdrubal Cabrera was brilliant, scoring on an acrobatic slide in the fourth, hitting a two-run homer in the fifth and throwing in a nifty blind flip to Neil Walker in the eighth for a pivotal out. And Syndergaard (8-2) didn’t play like a man in pain.
He pitched six innings, allowing three runs and eight hits with four strikeouts. But after the game, he was gone, already on the way to Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
Later last night, the Mets announced that Syndergaard was diagnosed with discomfort in the back of his elbow and an MRI showed no structural damage. He is being treated with anti-inflammatory medication and is cleared to resume his normal work routine. The tentative plan is he will make his next scheduled start against the Nationals.
If there was any indication that something was off with Syndergaard, it was in his final inning, when his control wavered, leading to two wild pitches Other than that, his velocity was on point. His fastball averaged 99.2, and he nearly hit 101.
“He pitched great,” Rene Rivera said. “That’s why I didn’t know anything about it.”
He wasn’t the only one who was surprised. “What happened to him?” Cabrera said.
When told about Syndergaard, Walker responded, “Oh, that’s bad news for us.”
Syndergaard wasn’t even alone in his trip to the doctor. Yoenis Cespedes, who left the game after the fifth inning with left wrist discomfort, also headed to the Hospital for Special Surgery. Cespedes was diagnosed with a mild sprain of the wrist and he received a cortisone shot. His status was described as day-to-day.
Zack Wheeler was at the hospital earlier in the day concerning a possible setback in his Tommy John recovery.
And the litany of the injured goes on. Here, have Walker list it for you: “This is no different than what we’ve been going through, with David [Wright] and [Lucas] Duda and [Juan] Lagares,” he said. “You just gotta keep pushing forward. No one is going to feel bad for you in this game. No one is going to keep it easy on you, whether it’s a team you’re supposed to beat or the best teams in the league.”
But it does wear on you. That much was apparent in Collins unable to even enjoy a quality win, one in which his bullpen performed admirably, a young player stepped up and Jeurys Familia earned his 24th straight save.
“It’s not that much fun,” Collins said. “I’d like to have a normal day once in a while.”
Not yesterday, and if the news is bad on either Cespedes or Syndergaard, he won’t be having one any time soon.