Terry Collins was talking about Noah Syndergaard’s blister when he veered hard, barking out ominous news about Seth Lugo — news that he hoped no one would ask him about, but something he clearly felt he should disclose.
“We lost Seth Lugo today for a period of time, so we know how important it is to keep our pitchers healthy,” Collins said after the Mets defeated the Braves, 6-0, on Opening Day. Then, when asked to clarify Lugo’s status, he said, “Yeah, I’m going to go now.”
You can’t really blame Collins for being cagey. After losing three starters to season-ending injuries last year, pitching injuries are a particularly touchy subject. And this one doesn’t seem good at all.
“He’s going to miss some time with his elbow,” Collins said, finally elaborating. “We got to make sure we keep these guys healthy. It’s going to be a couple weeks for sure.”
Despite the upbeat start to the season, the Mets ended Monday on a sour note. Lugo, who has been diagnosed with inflammation in his pitching elbow, might have something more serious.
His MRI Saturday came back negative, and he expressed hope Monday morning that he could start throwing as soon as Tuesday. All he had to do, he said, was get the OK from Dr. David Altchek.
Instead, a downcast Lugo more or less confirmed Monday afternoon that there will be no throwing of any kind unless he gets a diagnosis that is different from the one Altchek gave him Monday (what that is, the Mets wouldn’t say).
“I think on Wednesday we’re going to address that,” Lugo said, adding that he was going to get a second opinion Tuesday in New York. And, like Collins, he backed away when asked for more information. “I feel good,” he said, not smiling. “I’ll see the doctor tomorrow and get more information.”
Lugo last pitched Wednesday, reporting elbow discomfort that he attributed to an “intense spring” that included a 15-inning stint with Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. That, in addition to competing with Rafael Montero for the long-man role in the bullpen, led to a workload that was larger than usual.
The news is especially bad for the Mets because Lugo proved how valuable he was after his call-up last year. He went 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA, helping the Mets walk back from pitching oblivion when Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz had to cut their seasons short because of injuries.
On Monday morning, before Collins’ disclosure, Lugo said the elbow simply felt off but that he wasn’t experiencing pain.
“I was hoping to be able to throw [Tuesday], but I’m waiting to see the right people, get an extra day of rest. I’m sure it won’t hurt it,” he said. “They just want to get [Altchek’s] approval, his opinion. I’m pretty sure I know what he’s going to say. How does it feel? Feels good? Go play.”
Not quite, and maybe not anytime soon.