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Rest recommended for Black, not surgery

Mets reliever diagnosed with neck herniation; no shoulder damage detected

NEW YORK -- The herniated disk in Vic Black's neck caused his fastball velocity to drop to 88 mph during his rehab assignment, but he will not require surgery, the Mets right-hander said Wednesday.

"That doesn't seem to be a thought," said Black, who is back in New York consulting a nerve specialist. "The rest, right now, is what they're recommending."

No timetable has been set for Black's return. A clearer picture should be available when he is re-evaluated next week. Black was pulled from a rehab assignment at Double-A Binghamton over the weekend after complaining of continuing shoulder soreness. That's where he thought the problem was, ever since being placed on the disabled list at the end of Spring Training.

It turns out the neck herniation is causing a ripple affect of strength issues in his right shoulder, which shows no structural damage, he said.

"When I got the MRI on my shoulder, the doctor said it looked like I had never thrown a baseball," Black said. "That's what was frustrating. If there is nothing wrong with my shoulder, then why is it hurting?

"It is causing some fatigue with the nerve," he said about the herniation. "My triceps wasn't firing completely, which of course causes all the other issues we felt were shoulder-related for so long."

Black, 26, also missed two weeks last season with a herniated disk. He posted a 2.60 ERA in 41 games and struck out almost a batter per inning.

Mets manager Terry Collins said Black will return to his setup role upon his return to the Mets' depleted bullpen. New York has lost Josh Edgin and Jerry Blevins to injury and Jenrry Mejia to suspension.

Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for
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