According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, citing a source, left-handed pitcher Jonathon Niese received “favorable” MRI results today during his follow up visit at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Niese has been cleared to head to Port St. Lucie to begin the rehabilitation process.
Niese, 26, was placed on the disabled list on June 20th after a partial tear was discovered in the rotator cuff of his pitching shoulder. If today’s results had gone the other way, it could’ve meant season ending surgery for Niese. As the Mets have seen first-hand with Johan Santana, major shoulder surgeries are often career altering.
Today’s news is certainly good news for the Mets, who will hope that Niese is able to continue strengthening his pitching shoulder without having a setback. Adam Rubin speculated a few days ago that it would take Niese about a month to re-enter the rotation after being cleared for rehab, which would mean a mid-August return to the majors.
Any strain can be classified as a tear, and pitching through minor tears such as the one Niese has is common. Niese’s teammate Dillon Gee has been pitching for years with a partially torn labrum, and the Mets signed Pedro Martinez prior to the 2005 season with the knowledge that he was pitching through a torn labrum.
Rotator cuff tears are less severe than labrum tears, so it won’t be surprising if Niese rounds back into form after strengthening his shoulder sufficiently. Before landing on the disabled list, Niese had a 4.32 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. In 77 innings pitched, he allowed 91 hits, walked 33, and struck out 49. In addition to pitching in horrendous conditions in Minnesota and Colorado early in the season, it was evident that Niese was pitching hurt.
Now that his issue has been diagnosed and he’s been cleared to rehab and pitch through it, the Mets need to keep their fingers crossed that Niese is able to round back into form.