Two days after being diagnosed with a herniated disk in his neck, Vic Black confirmed that he won't need surgery to repair the "modest'" ailment. He also insisted there "was never anything wrong with his shoulder" despite earlier contrary reports.
Expecting to return soon to the Mets bullpen, Black instead suffered a setback during Sunday's rehab appearance in Double-A Binghamton. The righty reported soreness while throwing 88-90 miles per hour, significantly down from his career 95.6 mph average fastball velocity.
Velocity dips are always a red flag, especially for a hard-throwing reliever who needs his optimal stuff to blow by batters. Yet if his shoulder is truly fine, there's more reason to believe Black can regain his stuff with some more rest.
With Jenrry Mejia suspended and Jerry Blevins sidelined, the Mets can use Black's services. Last season, he had a 2.60 ERA through 34 innings, albeit with a concerning 19 walks. As the Mets hold down the fort with Sean Gilmartin, Hansel Robles, and Erik Goedell, they'll have a high-leverage role waiting for Black whenever he's able to return.