Neck issue puts Mesoraco's season in jeopardy

Bulging disc could require epidural treatment; Wright won't return this weekend; Smith to play Winter Ball

September 5th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- Mets catcher 's season is in jeopardy. Mesoraco, who departed Monday's game after five innings due to back and neck discomfort, is scheduled to meet with doctors Thursday to determine if he needs an epidural injection. If so, the procedure could end his season.

Mesoraco, 30, has been dealing with a bulging disc issue in his neck. Because the Mets have the luxury of an expanded roster in September, they have not placed him on the disabled list. But the disc issue has flared up to the point where Mesoraco, even if he does not need an injection, is currently unable to play.

Mesoraco does not anticipate needing surgery on the issue, either now or in the offseason. If he receives good news Thursday, he may play again once his neck pain dissipates. If he receives bad news, the injection could force him to miss significant time -- perhaps even the remainder of the season.

A pending free agent, Mesoraco is hitting .211 with nine home runs in 62 games since the Mets acquired him from the Reds for Matt Harvey in May. In Mesoraco's absence, and are splitting catching duties.

In recent months, Mesoraco had established himself as 's personal catcher, starting behind the plate for 13 of deGrom's last 14 outings.

Next steps

Following an off-day Thursday, will work out Friday at Citi Field, then appear in a simulated game on Saturday, eliminating any realistic chance that he will return from the disabled list this weekend.

Wright, who has not played in the big leagues since May 2016 due to back, neck and shoulder injuries, has said he expects to do so at some point this month.

Winter Ball update

As he continues to transition to outfield work, has signed on to play for Toros del Este in the Dominican Winter League. The extra reps will give Smith, a lifetime first baseman, additional exposure to the new position.

"I just heard it's a lot of fun," Smith said. "I've heard nothing but good things about playing in Winter Ball. Everybody who goes always tells me that they had a great time, and I'm pretty excited. I've never been to the D.R. I heard it's in a nice area. I'm excited. It's going to be a good time, for sure."