WASHINGTON -- It was with brashness Noah Syndergaard marched into the Mets' clubhouse Friday at Nationals Park, having completing a successful bullpen session. Syndergaard said that his arm, so sore earlier in the week that he could not lift it above his shoulder, felt "great." He said he wished he
WASHINGTON -- It was with brashness Noah Syndergaard marched into the Mets' clubhouse Friday at Nationals Park, having completing a successful bullpen session. Syndergaard said that his arm, so sore earlier in the week that he could not lift it above his shoulder, felt "great." He said he wished he hadn't skipped his originally scheduled start last Thursday. Then Syndergaard revealed, unprompted, that he refused an MRI.
Asked about that the following morning, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson quipped: "I can't strap him down and throw him in the tube."
In retrospect, perhaps the Mets should have. Syndergaard departed Sunday's 23-5 loss to the Nationals in the second inning with a possible right lat strain, grimacing in pain as he clutched the area under his right arm. He walked off the field with manager Terry Collins and trainer Ray Ramirez flanking him, then departed alone for New York City.
This time, Syndergaard intends to undergo an MRI at 7 a.m. Monday morning.
"I think he understands that there's something going on now that he needs to have examined," Alderson said.
Syndergaard's medical trouble began early last week, when he first complained of right biceps discomfort. He received multiple doses of anti-inflammatory medication, reporting to Citi Field on Thursday expecting to pitch. But approximately three hours before the game, pitching coach Dan Warthen called Matt Harvey to tell him he would take Syndergaard's place. Harvey gave up six runs in a loss to the Braves, saying afterward that he was not "physically prepared" to pitch.
At around the same time, Syndergaard was in the act of refusing his MRI, telling the Mets his arm felt well enough that he didn't need one. A day later, he threw a full bullpen session at Nationals Park and proclaimed himself well enough to pitch. The Mets, in turn, scheduled Syndergaard to start Sunday's series finale.
"Would the MRI have disclosed a lat issue or reaffirmed some concern about the bicep? We'll never know," Alderson said. "We took him at face value, but he also threw a 'pen and felt fine. On the basis of that input as well as his own comments, he was good to go. … The people who were with him throwing the bullpen had no misgivings at all about him making his start."
Though manager Terry Collins noted that Syndergaard's lat issue is "not even close to the same area" as his biceps discomfort, Alderson admitted it's impossible to say if the two are interrelated. In any case, from his first pitches on Sunday, Syndergaard did not resemble his usual self. In walking the third batter of the game, Syndergaard snapped a streak of 31 strikeouts without a free pass, the second-longest such stretch to open a season in Major League history.
Syndergaard may have been throwing 100 mph, but location mistakes bedeviled him. For just the second time in his career, he allowed five runs in an inning, thrusting the Mets into an early 5-1 hole. An inning later, he grabbed his right side, walking off after a brief chat with Collins and Ramirez.
The latter two men were left to watch as Sean Gilmartin and three other pitchers, including third-string catcher Kevin Plawecki, gave up 18 more runs in a rout at Nationals Park. When told after the game that he looked agitated in the dugout, Collins snapped.
"You think?" the manager said. "What do you think?"
"It's a bad feeling," catcher Rene Rivera said. "He's our horse, our No. 1 guy. Watching him going through that pain, it's not easy for any of our 25 guys here."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.