Ike Davis & the Culpability of the Mets Medical Staff

Nothing is set in stone, but Ike Davis has some torn cartilage and a bone bruise in his ankle that is not healing. He’ll face some more tests and try to run in three weeks, but if he can’t, he’ll be facing season-ending surgery. It’s possible that season-ending surgery will be of the bone-chilling microfracture variety. Let’s pause for a second until the cacophony of “snakebit” and “woe is us” coming from Queens dies down.

There, that’s better. It’s upsetting though, of course. And the one of the main complaints may have some merit. With this story so familiar in recent years, it does seem merited to wonder if the Mets medical staff is doing their jobs correctly. You could take the words “Ike Davis” out of this situation and slide in “Carlos Beltran” and only the joint in question would be any different.

It’s been well documented that the Mets have had injury problems. Over the last three years, only the Oakland A’s have lost more than the Mets’ 4423 days. And that number is almost three times the number of days the White Sox have lost to injury. Yes, there have been plenty of players on the training table at Citi Field.

But injuries happen. Healthy players run into healthy players, trip over bags, and get hit by pitches. There’s very little that can be done about the chaos of baseball. Well, there’s a little something that can be done. And the Mets’ staff did try to do that little something about this recently with a focus on “prevention and recovery” going into the 2010 season. The team still led the league in days lost to the DL in 2010, but they trimmed that damage from 1451 days lost in 2009 to 929 days lost in 2010. Progress!

But using ‘days lost’ as the measuring stick misses the fact that a veteran team will be more susceptible to injury. They were the fourth-oldest team in the NL in 2009, for example. And even young players like Angel Pagan and Jose Reyes can be injury-prone independent of their medical staff. Does it seem like perhaps ‘days lost once a player hits the DL’ is a better measure of the prowess of the medical staff? Injuries can happen in the run of play, but then how quickly the training staff gets their team back on the field at least provides us another entry point into the discussion.

Well, the Mets suffer there, too. Whether you go back three years or five years, the team has lost the second-most days per DL trip in the league. Only the Yankees have lost more days every time a player has gone down with an injury. Ike Davis and Carlos Beltran are part of a larger pattern. Once a Met has hit the DL over the past five years, they’ve averaged over 60 days gone.

Of course, this isn’t completely fair either. Just like a player might be prone to injury whether because of their age or physiology, they could be prone to longer recovery times for the same reasons. But we can’t let the staff off the hook, either. A major part of the recovery process is correctly identifying the problem from the get-go. In the case of Davis, Beltran, and David Wright, there have been new discoveries late in the game. Injuries have turned from sprained ankles into cartilage issues, and from back strains into stress fractures.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson has looked a little embarrassed during some his injury updates this year. Perhaps the next thing he can look into is the effectiveness of his own medical staff. That might ‘prevent’ some ‘recovery’ from embarrassment in the future.

Thanks to Jeff Zimmerman for providing the DL data for this piece.

With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

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Kevin S.
12 years ago

Jose Reyes was also misdiagnosed and rushed back, too. There was pressure on Wright and Church to come back too quickly from concussions. Injuries happen, and having a lot of injuries shouldn’t necessarily be blamed on the team. But when the injuries are consistently mis-diagnosed and recovery time is always rushed, a problem exists. The Mets are the anti-Suns.

12 years ago
Reply to  Kevin S.

Reyes was misdiagnosed……by the Dodgers team doctors. You can’t blame the Mets or their doctors for that.

Not sure what the hell you’re talking about with Wright’s concussion. He came back in 15 games and was ready to go.

Church definitely rushed to get back, but not really sure you can blame the medical staff for that when concussion symptoms are not something that are readily obvious upon examination. The player can easily downplay a headache to get back onto the field.

12 years ago
Reply to  Derek

If Reyes was misdiagnosed by the Dodgers team doctors (and I have no idea what you’re talking about), then the Mets staff is still to blame as they should have made their own diagnosis.

12 years ago
Reply to  Derek

Church’s concussion was made worse because right after it happened, they put him on a plane. Reyes’ oblique injury last season was mishandled with Jerry Manuel’s genius, “he’ll only bat right handed” strategy.

And I still don’t know why the Mets wouldn’t immediately get a second opinion from their own doctors, regarding Reyes in 09.