NEW YORK -- Following a season in which injuries were an inescapable "part of the narrative," in general manager Sandy Alderson's words, the Mets on Tuesday announced sweeping changes to their medical structure, hiring former United States Army supervisor Jim Cavallini to their newly created role of director of performance
NEW YORK -- Following a season in which injuries were an inescapable "part of the narrative," in general manager Sandy Alderson's words, the Mets on Tuesday announced sweeping changes to their medical structure, hiring former United States Army supervisor Jim Cavallini to their newly created role of director of performance and sports science.
In that role, Cavallini will oversee all aspects of New York's medical program, from nutrition and sleep science to strength training, injury prevention and rehabilitation. Cavallini will also supervise new head trainer Brian Chicklo, whom the Mets promoted to replace Ray Ramirez, and assistant trainer Joseph Golia. He will work alongside Mike Barwis, who currently serves as a Mets advisor.
"While we're certainly not going to eliminate injuries, we will have the capacity, the expertise, the organization and the communication among our medical staff, as well as field staff and front office to optimize performance on behalf of the players," Alderson said.
The move is part of a broader effort for the Mets to improve organizational medical structures, including the flow of information amongst the team's players, field staff, training staff, front office and doctors.
"One of the things we liked about Jim was his attention to detail and organization and management skills, because it is important to make sure that all of these different areas of expertise are well-coordinated in providing a sort of holistic approach to each player's performance," Alderson said. "So I'm real excited about this."
A former strength coach at the University of Virginia and the University of Iowa, Cavallini joined the Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 2010. For the past three years, he has managed a team of coaches, athletic trainers, dietitians, sports scientists and cognitive coaches, overseeing all aspects of the performance program in a role similar to that of his new job with the Mets. Previously, Cavallini served as the lead developer of Fort Bragg's performance training, testing methodology and coaching for injured soldiers.
Chicklo has been a Mets employee for 20 years, Golia for 13 in various training staff roles. In addition to those promotions, the Mets plan to add staff members at each of their Minor League affiliates.
All told, the personnel moves are the Mets' most sweeping in years, coming in direct response to a season that saw them lose Noah Syndergaard, Yoenis Cespedes, Jeurys Familia and other key players for months at a time.
Syndergaard's injury in particular -- a right lat tear -- demonstrated some of the inconsistencies that the Mets would like to eliminate. Although Syndergaard began experiencing biceps discomfort late last April, he declined an MRI on his arm, and the Mets allowed him -- after just one skipped outing -- to start an April 30 game against the Nationals. He subsequently tore his lat, sidelining him until Sept. 23.
Alderson said that episode, among others, factored into the team's decision to revamp its medical staff and practices.
"We felt not only beginning this offseason, but as early as last year midseason, that it was something we needed to address," the GM said. "I think we've done that in a variety of different ways."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.