MILWAUKEE — Thursday morning, out of the blue, the first phone call Terry Collins got on his day off was the news from trainer Ray Ramirez that closer Jeurys Familia was heading to St. Louis, likely to have surgery. It’s been that kind of season for the Mets’ manager; seemingly every time he picks up his phone it’s bad news.
But Saturday, Collins got what he thinks is good news.
Familia’s surgery to remove an arterial blood clot in his right shoulder was not as extensive as the Mets initially thought it would be. The Mets announced Saturday night that Familia can begin throwing after six weeks and the timetable for return is three to four months. The Mets expect a recovery and rehab time of three months, meaning he possibly could come back by the end of this season.
At least it’s some hope for a team that has been decimated by injuries.
“From my standpoint it turned out a lot better than I had heard or what I was thinking it might be,” Collins said.
He had worried the surgery would be similar to Matt Harvey’s last season for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which knocked him out for the season. “I have not heard a time frame, but the surgery according to Ray was a little different than the other guys,” Collins said. “No surgery is good, but it’s better than could have been.”
The Mets will take any hope they can at this point. They have placed 11 players on the disabled list just 34 games into the season and have had just three come back. With Familia, three of their four 2016 All Stars — Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes — are on the DL. (Bartolo Colon plays for the Braves and is seemingly healthy).
“I have a high tolerance for frustration,” Sandy Alderson said. “These things happen. It’s probably happen more frequently in a short period of time than any of us expected or watched. On the other hand we have to deal with what’s in front of us. I have been very happy with the way the team has responded in the face of all this. I expect they will continue to respond the same way. We have a group of very high character individuals. From my standpoint, I take my cue from them and we move ahead.”
HELP ON THE HORIZON?
Lefty Steven Matz (elbow discomfort) and righthander Seth Lugo (torn UCL) made their first appearances in games Saturday. Each threw 30 pitches in an extended spring training game. Now the Mets wait to see how both feel Sunday morning then schedule their next appearances, which will likely be 45 pitches.
The Mets were hoping both pitchers could be back by the end of this month or early June. Matz would obviously be a big boost to the rotation that has lost Syndergaard until after the All-Star break. Lugo, who is trying to avoid Tommy John surgery through a throwing and rehab program, could also be added to the rotation in the spot that the Mets brought in lefty Tommy Milone as a stopgap.
After a slow, cold April, Neil Walker has started to heat up in May. Walker is hitting .325 with four doubles, a triple and a home run in 10 games in May. He has driven in eight runs in that span, including two after a day off on Thursday in Friday night’s loss.
Collins thinks that giving Walker, who had offseason back surgery, rest helps his game.
“These guys, they all want to play, but I think they that we got to be aware that sometimes they may need a few days off early than we think,” Collins said. “So seems like every time he’s had a day or so off he’s swung the bat pretty good.”