CINCINNATI — Even after all the exams, the second opinions and possibly surgery, there will be no answers for the Mets. There will be no way of knowing if they will have Michael Conforto back 100% next season. The 24-year-old slugger was having his dislocated shoulder examined Monday by team doctors to determine his course of treatment.
Conforto will go for a second opinion, the team announced Monday. They also confirmed Yoenis Cespedes will miss the rest of the season with a strained right hamstring. Sandy Alderson said that his approach to the 2018 outfield would largely be determined by what the doctors say Monday, but really there is no telling when and if Conforto will be back as the terrific player he was developing into this season.
“I hope he comes back and picks up right where he was, but you have to worry about how it will affect his swing going forward,” a Mets source said. “You have to worry. He generates a lot of power in his swing, it’s a lot of force on that shoulder.”
So no matter the decisions the Mets and Conforto make now, there has be concern about him and their only other signed power hitter going into 2018.
Cespedes’ history of leg issues is well documented. The 31-year old has admitted he needs to change his offseason workouts to try and stay healthier, but he made it clear he will likely be sticking with Mike Barwis, the Mets strength and conditioning coordinator who he trained with this offseason.
Cespedes is in the first year of a four-year, $ 110 million contract with the Mets, they have to be concerned about his ability to stay on the field and keep the legs that generate his power healthy.
Conforto’s injury isn’t so easy to trace, and that adds to the Mets’ offseason work. Having traded away their power-hitting first baseman and unsure if they will ever get David Wright back at third, let alone what his power production will be, the Mets now have to go out and find a power bat to add somewhere to their lineup for next season. A slugging outfielder like Jay Bruce or a hard-hitting third baseman like Mike Moustakas now has to be among their targets this winter. And if Conforto comes through fine, imagine the lineup the Mets could have in 2018.
But there will be questions.
According to Dr. Armin Tehrany, an orthopedic surgeon, shoulder & knee specialist, and the founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care, this is not a simple injury to come back from. Surgery is the best option. “A tear in the posterior capsule could be treated conservatively, or non operatively, scar in and do very well,” said Tehrany, who emphasized he is speaking in general since he has not examined Conforto. “In the case of Conforto and in the manner he tore though, it is unlikely do very well without surgery.”
But the surgery also does not guarantee that the Mets will have Conforto back 100% for next season. The rehabilitation and recovery from this surgery is generally four to six months without setbacks. That means Conforto may not be ready for spring training 2018.
Conforto is believed to have dislocated the shoulder before in a similar fashion, and Tehrany confirmed that players who have had this injury in the past are more likely to have it in the future. “He was likely a loose-jointed individual, there is nothing he could do about that,” Tehrany said. “It’s a combination of genetics and bad luck.”
The good news is that after the surgery the likelihood of him dislocating his shoulder again is no longer elevated. But there will also be no guarantees that he will get back to 100% in 2018 or be able to swing for power like he was doing this year.
That is something the Mets cannot count on as they plan for 2018. When he went down Thursday, Conforto had driven in 68 runs and was closing in on his first 30-home run season with 27.
Ironically, it was an injury to Cespedes that allowed Conforto to have that breakout role this season. Cespedes missed 38 games earlier this season with a strained left hamstring. Friday night, he suffered a strained right hamstring which Sandy Alderson described as similar in location and severity as the first.
His history of injuries and the fact Cespedes played just 81 games, drove in 42 runs and hit 17 homers this season makes the need for another power hitter that much more urgent.
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