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Zack Wheeler Reportedly Had Another Elbow Injury Prior to Torn UCL

In news that will probably shock zero people who closely follow the New York Mets, it turns out young righty Zack Wheeler had a torn tendon that required treatment in the offseason. This injury is prior to the UCL tear that will require Tommy John surgery and cost him all of 2015 and parts of 2016. Newsday’s Marc Carig reports, via a source, the Mets knew about the injury and twice had Wheeler undergo platelet-rich plasma therapy in hopes of rehabbing it.

This doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement of the Mets medical staff:

Wheeler, 24, had been cleared to keep pitching last season despite chronic pain caused by what the team has been calling inflammation of the tendon, or tendinitis. According to a source, it turns out that the tendon was actually “a little bit torn.”

Meanwhile the tear in his elbow ligament wasn’t discovered by MRI until the weekend.

Whatever happened, Wheeler is done for the season and the Mets suffer another injury setback on the heels of Matt Harvey’s torn UCL in 2013. So it goes.

Two quick thoughts here.

1. For all the studies, words and column inches written in the last decade about young pitchers and the health of their throwing arms, it doesn’t seem like we’re any closer to devising a fool-proof system that will prevent pitchers from undergoing Tommy John surgery. (If someone is able to come up with this solution — or cold fusion for that matter — they will be a very rich human being.) Wheeler threw 185+ innings last year at age 24, which seems like a lot. Maybe the Mets should have been more judicious considering they finished 79-83. Shutting down Wheeler in September probably would have looked better on paper. Then again, his UCL could have still given out this Spring.

2. I’m awaiting the report that reveals the Mets medical staff still uses Civil War era techniques for dealing with injuries and/or leeches.