It seems hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear about a player of at least moderate importance to his team sustaining an injury. Someone is forever being “shut down” for a few days or more. We hear about some muscle or other being tender, sore, tweaked or torqued. There are the intercostal strains which have deprived us of Daniel Murphy and David Wright. There is the arm weakness of Johan Santana. There’s the tortured ankle of Justin Turner. There’s the impounded knee of Kirk Nieuwenhuis. And that’s just us. Chase Headley of the Padres has a wonky shoulder. The Dodgers’ Hanley Ramirez has a throbbing thumb. The news across town is even more grim, with Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixiera looking at skipping most of the summer and even Derek Jeter suffering a setback on his famous ankle, jeopardizing his participation in Opening Day.
News like this can ruin a franchise’s whole mojo at the outset, and when you’re a team like the Mets – where so many things need to go right – any injury news can cause stroke-like symptoms among the fan base. Such was the case with the news that Shaun Marcum had to have a cortisone shot in his pitching shoulder, due to an “impingement.” Pulled from a start, sent for an MRI: these are all familiar themes to the veteran Met-watcher. With Santana on the shelf nursing his mysteriously weak arm, this news about Marcum made the Mets’ starting staff look a lot less hearty than it did a week ago. Add in the fact that Dillon Gee has been cuffed about pretty badly in his last two appearances, an you have grounds for thinking that a supposed strength of the team may not be as strong as one would hope. In fact, minus Santana, Marcum and with a diminished Gee, the starting pitching boils down to Jonathon Niese, Matt Harvey and a bag of dirt. With the offense looking as frail as it does, it’s going to take beyond stellar pitching for the Mets to even show up 162 times, let alone have the ability to win more than half their games.
Now, word has come down today, that Marcum gets a cortisone boost in his right shoulder every spring. His shoulder, he says, feels “fine,” and he will only be missing one start. He’s been backed up by manager Terry Collins, who plans to use him sometime around Monday (3/25), and GM Sandy Alderson, who called the shot/rest “precautionary.” The collective “WHEW!” from Queens could be heard all the way to Jersey.
But it only goes to show you just how tenuous the whole thing is, how easily something counted on can turn to chalk. This early in the year, nothing is graven in stone; no thing is a sure thing. It’s not that far a stretch to go from “I think we might be OK,” to “Oh my God! We’ve lost Shaun Marcum!”
In this time of the NCAA Tournament, the madness that is March, Met fans can borrow a mantra from a legendary coach, the late Jimmy Valvano.
“Survive and advance.”
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley