By Ed Coleman
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JUPITER, Fla. (WFAN) — Jon Niese can breathe a sigh of relief.
After an examination by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, Niese received a cortisone shot for inflammation in the back of his left elbow and may be cleared to resume throwing as early as Wednesday.
Niese started but left Sunday’s game against the Cardinals in Jupiter after just two innings due to discomfort in the elbow. In his previous start last Tuesday, Niese’s velocity was down considerably, but said afterward that his shoulder felt fine and he experienced no pain anywhere.
He blamed the velocity dip on poor mechanics, and said that he would be fine moving forward. But the elbow flared up on him yesterday, and he flew to New York last night in order to have an MRI on Monday morning.
The MRI showed no structural damage.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this, and it’s just frustrating,” Niese said Sunday.
Niese’s selection as the Opening Day starter on March 31 — two weeks from today — is now very much in doubt. There simply does not appear to be enough time to get his pitch count up to around 90-100 in that time frame.
Niese could be placed on the DL to begin the season — backdated for spring training — and be eligible to come off and pitch the first day the Mets would need a fifth starter, which would be April 6.
Under that scenario, the Mets could carry either an extra bench player or an extra pitcher for the bullpen until Niese was activated.
“He actually wanted to go back in and pitch,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. “Obviously as it closer to opening day, it becomes more problematic. … It raises the issue of our starting pitching depth. The fact that we have it is reassuring.”
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