UPDATE, 2:45 PM:
While speaking with reporters after departing his start early, Jonathon Niese noted that he hyperextended his elbow 10 days ago during an intrasquad game and had been rehabbing it while taking anti-inflammatory medication.
Niese explained that the pain is in the back of his elbow – not the area usually associated with a serious injury such as a ligament tear.
Mets assistant general manager John Ricco later told reporters that Niese would be heading to New York for an MRI – his second of the spring.
While Niese’s injury may not be serious, it appears highly unlikely that Niese will be ready in time for opening day.
UPDATE, 2:20 PM:
Per the Mets, Jonathon Niese left Sunday’s start due to discomfort in his left (pitching) elbow.
After tossing two innings Sunday against the Cardinals in Jupiter, Mets starter Jonathon Niese departed the game abruptly prior to the bottom of the third inning.
Mar 11, 2014; Jupiter, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese (49) delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
According to stadium radar guns, Niese’s fastball was topping out at 89 miles per hour during the game.
Per Josh Lewin and John Franco, who were calling the game on WOR, the Mets didn’t have anyone warming up in the bullpen prior to Niese being removed – meaning that Niese being taken out of the game likely came as a surprise.
Niese, 27, was sent back to New York for an MRI earlier this spring after complaining of shoulder fatigue, but he was given a clean bill of health.
Mets manager Terry Collins expressed some concern regarding Niese after his last start – noting that his fastball velocity in the first inning was low. However, Collins said that Niese’s velocity rose as the game went on.