MIAMI -- While his players and coaches will spend Thursday's off-day relaxing around Tampa Bay, Mets manager Terry Collins plans to work. Collins will make the two-hour drive north from Marlins Park to the team's Spring Training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., with plans to "challenge" rehabbing pitcher Rafael Montero.
Montero has been on the disabled list since April 29 with what, at the time, the Mets labeled right rotator cuff inflammation. But team doctors have never identified an injury in multiple examinations since, and a spokesman said Thursday that there is no current diagnosis.
The Mets recently shut down Montero after he complained of discomfort in his shoulder, but an examination last week again revealed nothing wrong. So Collins, who desperately wants Montero to contribute to a pitching staff with innings issues looming, plans to travel to Port St. Lucie to diagnose the situation for himself.
"I just want to go see this kid just to deliver a little message," Collins said, adding that he may also ask rehabbing veteran Michael Cuddyer to talk to Montero.
Once considered a significant part of the Mets' future plans, Montero has appeared in just five games this season at the big league level. He last pitched July 20 for the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Mets, but he complained of shoulder discomfort afterward. Doctors examined him, and again finding nothing wrong, cleared him to throw shortly thereafter. Montero been doing so off flat ground ever since.
But the Mets, who plan to insert a spot starter into their rotation during their next road trip through Baltimore, Denver and Philadelphia, hope Montero can do more -- and soon.
"This is not how I want to spend my day off," Collins said of his visit to Port St. Lucie. "But I think he's a pretty big piece."