It was a simple swing, but like everything else for the Mets this season it did not end so simply. After months of taking on injury after impossible injury, Michael Conforto dislocated his left shoulder swinging the bat.
Hours later an MRI confirmed what the Mets and Conforto had to fear. He has a tear in the posterior capsule of his shoulder. Not only is he done for the season, but he could be facing surgery.
“It turns your stomach,” Terry Collins said of watching Conforto crumble to the ground and cry out in pain as he grabbed his shoulder during the Mets’ 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks.
If the air had not already come out of the balloon on this disappointing 2017 season, it did shortly after 2 p.m. on Thursday.
The Mets said Thursday night all treatment options, including surgery, are still on the table.
They need to take the most conservative approach.
The outfielder had been one of the few highlights in a season full of injuries and losses. He fought his way back from what had been a horrible second season in the big leagues. Conforto had come into spring training without a guaranteed job and with the threat of being sent back to the minors hanging over his head. He went from riding the bus on long spring training trips usually reserved for minor leaguers in March to being the Mets’ sole All Star in July.
On Thursday, when he went down, Conforto was hitting .279 with a career-high 27 home runs and 68 RBI and had established himself as the future of this lineup heading into the final six weeks.
It has been clear for a while that this just wasn’t going to be the Mets season. After beginning the spring with seven potential starting pitchers, the Mets have just two of their young power arms still in the rotation. Only one, Jacob deGrom, hasn’t made a trip to the disabled list this season.
And now two of them have been shut down for the duration of 2017.
Thursday morning, the Mets announced that Zack Wheeler would not pitch again this season.
“With the situation the team is in, it’s just not something we wanted to risk getting back,” the righthander said. “The doctors said it needs two months rest.”
Tuesday, Steven Matz was shut down for the season and Wednesday, he had surgery to move the ulnar nerve in his elbow. After the game, Matz said he felt good and was expecting a fairly normal offseason and to be ready for 2018 spring training.
Every one of the Mets’ Opening Day infielders, except catcher Rene Rivera (now a Cub), was on the disabled list at some point this season.
It is staggering. The Mets rank third in the most man-games lost to injury behind the Dodgers, who despite their injuries are running away with the National League, and the Rays.
But the Mets have had injuries that have cut to the core of this team, like Noah Syndergaard and Yoenis Cespedes.
And now this one.
“This one really hurts,” Collins said of watching Conforto go down. “Really hurts.”
Conforto was still at the hospital after the game Thursday and Collins said the Mets did not yet have an idea of how long the 24-year-old would be down. The usual recovery time for a dislocation is four to six weeks, depending on the severity, which the Mets were still trying to gauge.
A dislocated shoulder can be so serious that it requires surgery, as it did for Blue Jays outfielder Darrell Ceciliani, who partially dislocated his shoulder while hitting a home run in May of this season. He has not played since.
Oddly, it was an injury that got Conforto back on track this season. When Yoenis Cespedes missed 38 games with a strained left hamstring early in 2017, Conforto got his chance to play every day and he proved himself.
The image of Michael Conforto walking off the field grimacing in pain with head trainer Ray Ramirez helping him clasp his left arm to his side, will likely be the last one Mets fans see of him this season.
But it shouldn’t overshadow what he accomplished this year. Conforto will be a steady cornerstone of this team heading into an unsteady 2018 season.
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