Friday, July 8, 2011

The Reyes Injury Conundrum

Six days ago, Jose Reyes was removed from a game against the Yankees at Citi Field. After watching replays of his activity on the field during the game, it wasn't evident when or if he had actually hurt himself. Was Reyes simply being extra cautious in a contract year, not wanting to push himself on a hamstring that didn't feel perfect that day? After the Mets completed a thrilling comeback the next day, it was disclosed that Reyes had suffered a Grade 1 strain of his hamstring (the least severe grade, confirmed after an MRI), and that he would not be landing on the disabled list. Rather, he would fly to the West coast with the team in hopes of returning to the lineup mid-week.

Since then, what has happened has been a bit strange. On Monday and Tuesday, Reyes participated in limited activity. He walked on the treadmill, took grounders at short, and took batting practice from both sides of the plate. It appeared that he was progressing, and that his return to the lineup was a day or two away. On Tuesday, Reyes reported that his hamstring was feeling better and that he would attempt to run on Wednesday. Then, his agents stepped in. They requested for the MRI results to be reviewed by the doctor who performed Reyes' hamstring operation in 2009. Reyes' rehabilitation attempts were shut down - not by Reyes or the Mets, but because he had to wait for clearance from a doctor who was hand picked by his agents to review an already conclusive MRI.

To no one's shock, Reyes' agent's hand picked doctor recommended for Reyes to rest for a period of three weeks. The doctor didn't disagree with the initial diagnosis (Grade 1 strain), and didn't report that there was anything else wrong with Reyes. Instead of jumping all over what appears to be a clear move by Reyes' agents to err on the side of caution in a contract year, the beat writers (as expected) chalked this up as another "Met injury disaster" - which makes zero sense.

Let's review the events again:

-Reyes felt discomfort in his hamstring, and was immediately removed from the game on July 2nd.

-Reyes had an MRI on July 3rd, which revealed a Grade 1 hamstring strain.

-Reyes participated in light baseball activity on July 4th and July 5th, in hopes of returning to the lineup. Reyes himself stated that his hamstring was getting better, and that he would attempt to run on July 6th.

-On July 6th, Reyes' agents requested a review of the MRI and Reyes was shut down while he waited for the results.

-On July 7th, the doctor who reviewed the MRI (as requested by Reyes' agents), recommended for Jose Reyes to rest for a period of three weeks - while at the same time not disputing the initial diagnosis.

...Again, it's quite clear to me that Jose Reyes' agents stepped in to make sure that their prized client would take more time off than needed in an attempt to be extra cautious in a contract year. Nothing the Mets did raised any eyebrows prior to Reyes being shut down on July 7th.

Now, will this ploy by Reyes' agents come back to bite them (and Reyes) in the end? According to most who are familiar with Grade 1 hamstring strains, they heal in a matter of days - not weeks...which jives with the fact that Reyes came on the road with the Mets in an attempt to get back into the lineup quickly. Since Reyes' agents have stepped in, they have guaranteed that Reyes will miss no less than three full weeks (if Reyes returns the day he is eligible to come off the disabled list, which is doubtful). More likely, Reyes will miss around a month with an injury most believed would force him out of action for only a few days.

On the surface, it may seem that Reyes' agents are being prudent here. If Reyes returned too quickly and aggravated the injury, who knows how much time he'd have missed. However, by requesting a second opinion that forced Reyes out of action and onto the disabled list, his agents have now re-opened the conversation about how brittle Jose Reyes actually is (something that is overblown, but nonetheless out there). They've placed doubt in the minds of those who may potentially bid for Reyes' services after the season, most likely lessening the amount of guaranteed years and dollars Reyes will be able to earn from his next contract. And that scenario benefits the Mets, who badly want to re-sign him.

In the short-term, being without Jose Reyes is a huge blow for the Mets - who last night entered a stretch where they'll face seven All-Star starting pitchers in a row, before facing the Cardinals. Reyes will miss all of those games, making the task of hanging in the Wild Card race much tougher on the team. However, if you asked Sandy Alderson if he'd exchange a month of Reyes' services in 2011 in order to secure his services after the season for less years and dollars, I bet he would have happily signed up for it.

No comments: