The issue isn't that Jenrry Mejia has a hernia. It's not even that he'll need surgery to correct it. As is so often the case with the Mets, it's their handling of the injury itself that has become a point of contention.
After blowing the save and ultimately suffering the loss in yesterday's 7-6 defeat in Philadelphia, Mejia admitted that the lower back stiffness and calf tightness he has been dealing with is actually due to a hernia he's been suffering from the last three weeks. According to Mejia, the hernia will require surgery, but New York's closer is hoping to delay going under the knife until the offseason.
"The doctor said if that bothers me too much, let him know and they're going to fix it. I want to keep pitching and have the full season and then have the operation. At the beginning of the season, everything was good, normal. Now, I've got my leg, thigh, my back, a little bit of a hernia. So I've got to keep going. I don't want to stop for the season. I want to keep going. I want to keep pitching."
The problem here isn't with Mejia's decision. Any professional athlete will do what it takes to stay on the field. No, the issue is that he's being allowed to pitch at all. For a team that has had its share of poor public relations moments when it comes to injuries, allowing one of your prized young pitchers to gut out a hernia in a season that more than likely won't bear fruit is pointless and dangerous. But as mentioned, this is nothing new.
Here are a few of New York's not-so-great decisions injuries from the past few years.
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Mets put deGrom on disabled list, recall Montero
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Mets Injury Updates
Ryan Church, 2008
The outfielder suffered a mild concussion in spring training and another; far more severe concussion a little more than two months later in Atlanta when his head slammed into then Braves shortstop, Yunel Escobar's knee. The Mets used him as a pinch hitter two days later and had him fly with the club to Colorado, exacerbating his post-concussion symptoms. Unbelievably, Church wasn't placed on the disabled list for almost three weeks, leaving many to wonder what the club was thinking.
Jose Reyes, 2009
After seemingly moving past his early career injuries, Reyes suffered a small tear of his right hamstring tendon and did not play for the rest of the season, appearing in just 36 games. For reasons still unclear to this day, Reyes was allowed to test his injured leg at the very end of the 2009 season, ultimately tore his right hamstring, necessitating surgery.
Carlos Beltran, 2009-2010
After a season in which he played only 81 games due to knee problems, Beltran went rogue and decided to undergo knee surgery in January, 2010. The only problem? He did so without the consent of the Mets. The ensuing bitterness would last through the remainder of his tenure in Queens.
Ike Davis, 2011
Who knows how Davis's career with the Mets would have turned out if not for that fateful collision with David Wright in May, 2011? Off to a scorching start, what seemed like a simple ankle sprain turned into a season-ending malady for Davis and in turn made the Mets medical staff look like amateurs. A bone bruise turned into cartilage damage thanks to a walking boot that restricted the flow of blood to the ankle. In short, the injury and subsequent setbacks were a major embarrassment for the club.
David Wright, 2011
How do you allow the face of your franchise to play almost three full weeks with a broken back? Ask the Mets, because that's what they did with Wright. After initially hurting his back in a mid-April game, New York's star third baseman finally underwent an MRI—close to a month later—that showed a stress fracture in his lower back. It would be almost nine weeks until Wright returned to the major leagues.
To be fair, situations like this happen to all teams at some point or another. The difference is this seems to be a recurring issue with the Mets, whether it's under the previous regime of GM Omar Minaya or the current one led by Sandy Alderson. Manager Terry Collins, who didn't even admit to knowing about Mejia's hernia until the right-hander finally let the word slip yesterday, laid the onus at the feet of his closer.
"The medical people say he should be OK to pitch. So he’s got to make the decision. If he tells me [Monday] he can’t do it, then we’ll make a decision."
Former Mets reliever, Tim Byrdak had some pointed advice for Mejia.
Dear Mr Mejia. I pitched with sports hernia in 2010, results will not get better because you won't be able to finish your pitches#justssayin— Tim Byrdak (@Givemethelefty) August 10, 2014
Photo: Getty Images
Alderson and Collins need to step in and definitively tell Mejia that he needs to be shut down. A doctor saying the hernia won't worsen is not justifiable cause to allow the 24-year-old to continue to pitch. The art of pitching requires so many moving parts and precision that any tweak in the delivery can lead to negative results or worse, altered mechanics and further injury. The former has already come to fruition.
During the last three weeks, or the time Mejia said he has been pitching through the hernia, he is 0-2 with six saves and a 4.15 ERA, allowing 15 hits and four walks across 8.2 innings. Opposing batters are hitting .375 off Mejia during the same period. The right-hander had saved 11 games in 13 opportunities with a 2.45 ERA and .222 batting average against in 25 previous games since taking over as closer.
His numbers are already suffering, and the Mets must take action before the possibility of further injury becomes a reality. It's times like this where New York needs to learn from their past mistakes so Mejia's name isn't added to the list of #LOLMets moments; many of which are anything but funny.