Commentary

Mets don't question Jon Niese's heart

Waiting until Tuesday may be a very small risk -- but why take a risk at all?

Updated: June 28, 2011, 9:02 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- New York Mets left-hander Jon Niese had a rapid heartbeat and felt like he was in a sauna while pitching in the sixth inning on Saturday. He was allowed to face one additional batter, then removed as a precaution. He was subsequently examined by a Texas Rangers doctor, who found nothing imminently alarming.

Now Niese will wait until Tuesday to get an intensive medical examination, likely involving a cardiologist. And it will occur in Detroit, the next stop on the Mets' road trip -- after Niese spends Monday's team off-day a two-hour drive away at home in Ohio, according to manager Terry Collins.

"Nobody seems to be too concerned about it," Collins said.

Huh?

Look, there has been no shortage of Mets medical issues in recent years that have prompted raised eyebrows. Switch-hitter Jose Reyes was allowed to bat right-handed against right-handed pitching last summer while dealing with a right oblique strain. The failure to shut Reyes down and place him on the disabled list for a modest amount of time prompted the injury to linger.

Then, just last week, the Mets disclosed that first baseman Ike Davis actually had cartilage damage in his left ankle, and that the boot he had been wearing may have restricted circulation and slowed healing.

You can botch treatment for obliques and ankles, but why take any chances with a heart issue? Wasn't a change in the front office supposed to inject some common sense into the equation?

The likelihood is Niese has nothing severe. Saturday's rapid heartbeat may even have been induced by the mid-90s heat. But Niese said he had experienced the issue before on the mound, even in cooler climates.

Is it really sane -- even if there is an infinitesimally small chance of it being more severe -- to have Niese wait three full days for an exhaustive exam?

Niese ought to have been pulled from the game right away and not allowed to throw another pitch. And he certainly should have been taken to a hospital immediately afterward for a battery of tests. (They probably have some pretty good facilities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.)

Is that opinion based on any medical training? No. It's common sense. And it's not about Collins. He is relying on the recommendations of trainers and medical personnel.

When I presented to a Mets staffer the line of thinking that Niese ought to be exhaustively checked right away, he said: "That would make a lot of sense."

Asked how extensive medical testing could wait 72 hours, the person replied: "Or three months."

That is a reference to Niese having the issue before.

"Just random times -- sometimes not in the heat," Niese acknowledged after Saturday's game about the issue arising in the past. "It's one of those things where the adrenaline goes and the heart starts racing and you take a deep breath and calm down."

The left-hander added that those previous episodes did not trigger a battery of tests. He annually had passed a physical in spring training, and in his mind that was good enough. Except someone should have told him it isn't enough.

On Sunday, Niese actually did his standard day-after-start running around the warning track at Rangers Ballpark with no one monitoring him.

Why can't the Mets, just this once, take the most conservative path with a health issue?

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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