With all of the injuries and rehabbing that was going on throughout Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, there were plenty question marks as to whether the Mets would be at full strength or not by the time they ran onto Citi Field to take on the Braves on Thursday. Ike Davis and his Valley Fever, the rehab of Johan Santana, David Wright‘s abdominal injury, Tim Byrdak‘s knee surgery, Frank Francisco‘s balky knee, and the calf of Andres Torres were all questions that needed to be answered before the team headed north to Flushing. For the first time for what seemed to be forever, the team was at full strength for the start of the 2012 season. However, it wasn’t for very long though.
After Tyler Pastornicky tripled to right center field and Andres Torres pulled up lame with yet another strained calf, the Mets at full strength were once again a distant memory as he made an early exit. Scott Hairston subbed in for the new lead off hitter, and then the questions started to swirl again. Now that he is being placed on the 15-day DL and is flying down to Florida to start his rehab process, the organization has made the decision to activate 24-year-old outfield prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who will be in uniform today against the Atlanta Braves.
Nieuwenhuis has had some of his own injury problems, tearing the labrum in his non-throwing shoulder and missing the second half of
the 2011 season, after he put together a strong first half (.298/.403/.505). He could have stuck with the Mets straight out of camp, but he once again injured himself, hurting his right oblique, which led to him being optioned back to Triple-A. With Torres’ status for Opening Day somewhat up in the air, Nieuwenhuis stayed in Port St. Lucie just in case something like this happened.
I hope that Terry Collins puts Kirk right into the line up tomorrow afternoon at Citi to get his feet wet. It ha to be very unnerving for a rookie to get his first call to The Show and then have to sit on the bench, continually thinking about when he will get his first game action. Collins can help his young outfielder not think as much by inserting him into the line up immediately. Obviously, since we’re only at game 2 out of 162, it’s easier to put him into the line up now instead of in June or July when there is a chance they are contending for something.
This call up can do two things: his youth can continue to build the momentum that the team received with Johan taking the mound on Thursday, or it can start yet another season filled with injuries and expectations not being met. The injury may seem insignificant, but how the team reacts to not having their lead off hitter this early in the season could be a telling sign of how the rest of the year goes. Now we just wait and see; let’s hope Nieuwenhuis gets a chance to make an immediate impact upon his arrival.