By: Stache Staff

Byrdak knee surgery appointment puts bullpen in a tough spot

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Any preseason Mets column that dares to be optimistic must always address club health. If the Mets are to somehow sneak into the playoff discussion in 2012, key players who had their seasons cut short last year must stay healthy this season. Just think of what the Mets offense could be like with full seasons from Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy. Plus, if Jason Bay is even a shadow of his former self, that combination could make up for the Reyes departure.

Of course, even if past injured players do stay healthy, and even if other great things come to pass, there are always new problems arising at every turn. This morning we learned that Mets token bullpen lefty and resident hulkster Tim Byrdak will have knee surgery on Tuesday.

Says Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog, “If I had to bet, I’d say Byrdak doesn’t get back until late May.”

In-house options to replace Byrdak are Chuck James, Daniel Herrera, Garret Olson and AA lefty starter Robert Carson. Because none of those guys have a history of success in the major leagues, the Mets are looking to bring in C.J. Nitkowski, who is a 39-year-old sidearm-throwing local product that pitched for St. John’s in the early 90s.

Nitkowski never really found sustained success in the major leagues, and he hasn’t even played in MLB since 2005, but he did play in Korea and Japan from 2007 to 2010. Nitkowski’s age and spotty big league history make him a longshot to break camp with the Mets, but all the other candidates right now are longshots as well.

Amazin’ Avenue notes that Mike Gonzalez, Arther Rhodes and Damaso Marte are all lefty relievers who are still available in free agency. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see the Mets ink one of those veterans in the next couple of weeks. Sandy Alderson and company spent a bit of money to revamp the bullpen this off-season and I don’t think they’d let the season being without an experience player in the lefty specialist role.

In other news, David Wright flew to New York yesterday to have his ribcage examined. Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports that the Mets have suffered a suspicious amount of core injuries this spring.

Wright’s injury is representative of the core issues that have plagued the Mets throughout the first three weeks of Spring Training, prompting the team to re-evaluate some of its daily conditioning procedures. Already, Wright, outfielders Lucas Duda, Scott Hairston and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, second baseman Reese Havens and pitchers Robert Carson and Daniel Herrera have all missed time due to oblique, lower back or intercostal strains.

On the core epidemic, Terry Collins said, “You better believe it’s troubling, and we have no answers.”

How about some good news? Thanks to MetsBlog, we can see that the new blue wall at Citi Field looks great!

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