PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - On Thursday, the Mets announced that Jose Reyes, after concern about an irregular blood test, had been medically cleared to return to baseball activities.
Less than 24 hours later, though, the team scratched Reyes from Friday's lineup and revealed that the shortstop was headed back to New York for more tests to investigate what the Mets said "may be an imbalance" of his thyroid levels.
Reyes said he was told those levels were "over," meaning that he could be suffering from hyperthyroidism, or an overproduction of the thyroid hormone.
Reyes said he was told that he had to be shut down "because if I got on the field, it could be dangerous for me."
The symptoms of hyperthyroidism often involve weight loss and heart palpitations due to an increased metabolic rate. Left untreated, it could cause an irregular heartbeat, especially during exercise, which is the reason why Reyes has been prohibited from any physical activity - even riding a stationary bike - until he is cleared by the medical staff in New York.
Doctors in Florida apparently were comfortable enough with the test results to send Reyes back to the field. Once those results reached New York, however, the team's medical staff thought otherwise Friday and instructed the Mets to send him north for a closer examination.
"Our New York doctors double-checked it," Omar Minaya said. "After further review, they definitely want to see him there. I think they're being conservative and cautious."
Trainer Ray Ramirez pulled Reyes aside before he was to join his teammates on the field in preparation for Friday's game against the Marlins. Reyes, who has missed the first three Grapefruit League games, is scheduled to have the tests Monday. It could be up to 48 hours after that before the Mets know the results, keeping him out until Wednesday at the earliest.
"I have to be worried because I can't do anything," Reyes said. "I can't play baseball right now."
The Mets did not reveal specifics about Reyes' case. But Dr. Andrew Martorella, a thyroid specialist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan, said the condition is "really a very common thing, very treatable and completely curable."
Martorella said the elevated thyroid levels could have a number of causes, such as a cold or flu virus, or a type of autoimmune reaction. In some cases, the overactive thyroid simply returns to normal on its own. In others, it is treated with medication, such as the drug Tapazole or radioactive iodine, to bring the thyroid back under control.
In extreme situations, surgery can be performed to remove the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck.
Reyes said Friday that he did not feel any symptoms. On Thursday, after returning from the doctor, he played catch and took batting practice with the expectation of playing the next afternoon. After the sudden reversal, Reyes appeared shaken up Friday as he talked with reporters in the dugout.
"I don't want to say upset because this is more important than baseball right now," he said. "Because we're not talking about my legs, we're talking about my health, and that's even worse, so I have to be concerned about it."
Last week Reyes was interviewed by the FBI about his connection with a Toronto-based doctor under investigation for alleged distribution of HGH to professional athletes. Reyes denied being given HGH and Martorella said there is no correlation between HGH and the thyroid.