Mets downplay Syndergaard's elbow exam

Club says MRI on pitcher was merely a precaution

Mets downplay Syndergaard's elbow exam

LOS ANGELES -- A day after the Mets revealed that Noah Syndergaard quietly had his right elbow examined earlier this month, team officials downplayed the episode as merely a precaution.

"Noah's one of these guys, he's really in tune with the way he feels from start to start," Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said Thursday. "Coming out of the start against the Giants, he said something just didn't feel right, and wanted to have it checked out. We're pretty conservative when it comes to these guys and we had him looked at. It was nothing of concern."

Following that May 1 start against San Francisco, Syndergaard underwent an MRI on his elbow. But doctors did not find anything alarming and whatever Syndergaard felt -- Ricco stressed that it was not "pain" or even "discomfort" -- dissipated by the time of his next outing. Syndergaard has started twice since his examination, going 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA, and feeling nothing else amiss in his elbow.

Still, manager Terry Collins' casual revelation that Syndergaard had undergone an examination at all prompted reactions ranging from concern to fear. Of the Mets' five hard-throwing, young starting pitchers, only Syndergaard has not undergone Tommy John surgery.

Before Spring Training began, in large part because Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom were all coming off career-high innings totals, the Mets committed themselves to handling those three and Steven Matz as carefully as possible. Initially, that took the form of a delayed start to spring, but recently it has meant remaining sensitive to every ache and pain. When Matz complained of elbow soreness following his last start, for example, the Mets decided almost immediately to skip his turn in the rotation.

"The issue is with the big picture, you've got to take care of these guys," Collins said. "We made a commitment that we're going to watch out for these pitchers early in the year. And we're going to. … I [told] these guys from the first day of Spring Training, 'Don't be a hero here. Heroes die fast in this game.'"

Added Ricco: "I don't think it's really been any different than any other year. When it comes to pitchers, it's something we monitor … with all of the innings limits. It's something that we do almost on a day-to-day basis. So I wouldn't term it any different than other years. I guess the one difference would be that our pitching is so good that it's such a high-profile thing, that anytime there's anything, it's a headline. When you have a bunch of No. 3 and 4 starters, it's not as big a deal. These guys are top-of-the-game pitchers so it's going to get more attention."

Syndergaard is expected to make his next start as scheduled Tuesday against the Nationals.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.