Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kelvim Escobar's Injury Woes Continue

Edited March 28, 2010

Once it was news that Escobar was injured and wouldn't be pitching, I basically stopped reporting on this story. He was hurt, the Mets have such an awful reputation when it comes to handling things, and we'll just wait and see when he gets back. One thing that bears pointing out, however, is how accurate Craig Calcaterra's reporting on this issue was in comparison to the news coming out of Mets camp.

On February 18th, Calcaterra pointed out that Kelvim Escobar "may be seriously hurt" and that he "isn't even to grip a baseball" right now. Mets officials downplayed this, with Mets' beat reporter Adam Rubin relaying a story from Johan Santana saying that Escobar was fine. Later that night, WFAN reported that Mets officials have declared Escobar "on schedule" with what they expected of him at this poing in the spring.

Even on that Friday, February 19th, Escobar insisted that he would "be ready for opening day" because his issue was a weakness issue and that he'd be fine.

Well, fast-forward to the present and Kelvim Escobar has not thrown a baseball since that day. Metsblog continued to report on the issue, which slowly faded into the background over time. In fact, Metsblog relayed an article from the New York Times on March 11th which suggested that Escobar might simply retire if he couldn't overcome this particular bout of shoulder soreness.

Also in the article, they suggested Escobar would try to play catch in two weeks -- which would have been March 24th. He still hasn't thrown. Subsequently, it was reported that he would decide on April 1st whether he would pitch again or retire.

On March 21st, Metsblog relayed a story saying that Escobar might throw "tomorrow" and that there was a "pretty good chance that I'm (Escobar) going to start throwing next week." That didn't happen either.

The most recent news that I found on the Escobar front was reported by's Steve Popper. In it, Popper relays that Escobar said he would likely throw for the first time on Monday - tomorrow. I'll certainly be waiting for the news.

Long story short, but good for Calcaterra for sticking to his guns on the Escobar issue, even at the Mets insisted that there was nothing major wrong with Escobar. We went from opening day, to April, and now it looks like May is a more realistic return date. As I said a month ago, I think it's about 50/50 that Escobar pitches more than a handful of innings for the Mets this year, and I certainly wouldn't plan around him.

I try very hard not to "pile on" the Mets when it comes to things like this, but they are making it very difficult not to. You can argue if you like that the Escobar invesment wasn't a wise one (though we here believed it was a worthy gamble) but the way this was handled was strange to say the least. If this teaches us anything, I'd say it teaches us that we should continue to view information from "Mets officials" with skepticism, and continue to trust those sources which have proved themselves to be reliable.

Here's hoping that Kelvim makes his way back soon.

Edited Friday 12:24pm:

The latest from Calcaterra:

Adam Rubin of the Daily News caught up with Kelvim Escobar. He says that he won't pick up a baseball until he's cleared by his rehab coordinator, but that he's not worried and that he thinks it's a weakness issue, not an injury issue. When asked if he'll be ready for opening day he said "I think so. It's all going to depend how my arm responds to the exercises and how quickly my shoulder gets its strength back."

Everyone who has spoken since my report yesterday has downplayed the possibility of an injury. something has obviously changed in the last week, however, as he has gone from throwing to no pitching activity at all. As I said yesterday, however, updates as they occur.

Awesome!!! We have upgraded from "isn't even able to" pick up a baseball to "won't" pick up a baseball. For what it is worth, those could mean the same thing --- if the medical staff wouldn't allow him to pick up a baseball, that could be the same as "won't."

Either way, it is late February and Kelvim Escobar is not clear to do baseball-related activities at this time.

Good for Craig for keeping us updated. As he mentions, all other sources seem to be downplaying any potential injury issue. That is, of course, not to say that there isn't one -- I think most people would agree that the Mets front office and medical staff do NOT get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to disclosure of injuries. This goes doubly for Escobar.

This is my own gut feeling, but I'd say it's about 50/50 that Escobar even gives us 10 innings this year.


Edited Thursday 10:29PM: Just heard on the FAN that the Mets are holding the line on the Escobar story, saying that he is "on schedule" with what they expected of him at this point in the spring. Richard Neer, the host, then re-reported the Santana quote that he had thrown with Escobar all week and he looked fine. So ... who knows. That's the most recent info I have.


Original Post, Thursday 8:25PM: Well, that did not take very long. Depending on which report you believe, Kelvim may already be experiencing some serious shoulder discomfort.

Today, Fonzie Forever fave Craig Calcaterra over at NBC Sports passed along information from a source which said "Escobar isn't even able to grip a baseball right now, and there are concerns that he is seriously injured."

Adam Rubin later tweeted that "Johan Santana played catch with [Escobar] all week and said Escobar having trouble gripping a baseball would be untrue."

Calcaterra later clarified on Baseball Think Factory that he trusted his source, but that he would be vigilant about updating the information as it came to him, no matter "whether it confirms my report or debunks it."

I trust Craig, so I am sure that something is afoot here. Either way - whether it is severe or if it is just discomfort - this is very bad news for the Mets. As we all know, Escobar has a very ugly injury history:
The biggest came in 2008, when it was discovered that Escobar had a "shoulder tear," which is something I have never even heard of (usually it's a part of the shoulder, isn't it?). He underwent the surgery some time in July of 2008, after an attempt to pitch through pain that season. Fun fact? The surgery was performed by the Mets own orthopedist David Altchek.

Then in 2009, when attempting to return from the surgery, he experienced a "deep ache" in the shoulder and had to shut it down yet again.
The important, and worst, part of all this is that it is the worst kind of injury that you can suffer. It is to the shoulder, and it is lingering. It is not something which was addressed with a procedure and then put in the past. With Escobar's difficulties in returning from surgery last year, any setback this year I think would have to be presumptively season-ending.

Keep close tabs on Craig's blog at NBC to see what further updates come out. With our potential eighth-inning bullpen depth literally consisting of only Ryota Igarishi and Bobby Parnell, I would consider us in deep trouble if Escobar couldn't pitch.

On the lighter side, I literally laughed when I read that Escobar was hurt. I mean, really? Already?

Commenter Ryan Jones over at BTF probably had the funniest line of the day for me with this exchange:

A: "This is the Mets. "Can't grip a baseball" is code for "had his arm amputated at the elbow."

B: I don't know about that. My Mets-to-English guidebook indicates the proper translation would be "Missing for three days and presumed dead."

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