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Process problems no surgery can cure...

by Jim McNierney

The New York Mets are an organization that has fallen victim (seemingly) of bad luck in the 2009 season. Embedded in that bad luck though, has got to be a loss of confidence in the medical staff.

It’s really hard to believe that with all the advancements within sports medicine in the last two decades that minor injuries can develop into season ending injuries and in the case of a couple of players, Jose Reyes for one, be mishandled or misdiagnosed and the injury exasperated by attempting to return to play before he was ready.

In all cases, the perception was that the club was trying at all costs to salvage a season that during the months of May, June and July slowly got away from them. One by one, key players were injured and then the replacements were injured. It was so bizarre and surreal that it appeared that no one was attempting to play the role of trainer and have these guys properly prepared for attempting to play baseball.

Make no mistake, despite the fact that baseball appears to be a game that isn’t a contact sport or as strenuous on the body as football or hockey, the sheer fact that these guys have to play 162 games in six months means they have to know how to take care of themselves. They also have to play through spring training and, if lucky, some post season games. They have to rely on the medical resources of the club to contend with the aches and pains that will inevitably occur during the course of a season without allowing those strains and aches become more serious injuries.

The players have to rely on the good judgment of the medical staff and the management of the club to make sure that the team remains healthy and competitive. In 2009, it didn’t work. The process failed miserably and publicly.

Now we are in the off season and the last thing we want to hear (as fans) are that there is another lingering problem from one of these injuries that is going to result in surgery that will cause one of the most key players in the major club, our all-star centerfielder Carlos Beltran, to miss more time in the coming season. But, that is exactly what was reported last week.

The most disturbing element of this is that it seems the Mets are (again) taking a position that they had an issue with this medical procedure. A medical procedure that was deemed necessary by the player’s personal physician and that the Mets organization went public with their displeasure that this procedure occurred without their permission.

On first blush, it would appear that Carlos Beltran also has some misgivings about the effectiveness of the Mets' medical staff.

The fact that Carlos personally called the GM (Omar Minaya, an encounter that Minaya admits occurred) seems to have been construed as “not following the process.” This same process that, had Beltran been properly diagnosed and properly treated, might have yielded this surgery happening earlier and maybe ready for the upcoming season.

The organization is just taking another black eye here with this very public “tiff” with Beltran. They are running the risk of alienating a key cog if this team is going to be competitive next season.

The Mets continue to harp on the fact that they had issue with the surgery taking place. Then stated that they wanted time to process the diagnosis, seek a third opinion, but isn’t it likely that even with the further inspection that the outcome could have been the same?

Where is the concern for the player here…? How about this man’s well being and future career and life?

As a fan, I would have been happier if the story broke with no public dispute of process or medical necessity of the surgery but that it happened. The “dispute” about the process should have been kept within the organization and between the agent and the team if that is where the displeasure surely lies. The Mets unfortunately are coming off as if they aren’t really concerned about the welfare of the player in this instance as they are about maintaining their control over a process that hasn’t been all to fruitful lately from anyone’s perspective.

Right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the training staff and medical “specialists” assigned to this team have bright red noses and wear big floppy shoes.


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