Collins spoke after a day that began poorly for the Mets and just kept getting worse. In the morning, it was learned that Noah Syndergaard, the team’s ace, had discomfort in his throwing arm — apparently in his biceps and shoulder — and would be scratched as the day’s starter.
And then, four innings into a game that the Mets lost, 7-5, to the Atlanta Braves, Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets’ best position player, pulled up lame as he ran to second base with a double. Cespedes had missed several games recently after his left hamstring began bothering him, returned to the lineup on Wednesday, and on Thursday appeared to injure the same hamstring, this time more seriously.
He was unable to walk off the field unaided and was set to have a magnetic resonance imaging exam on his leg on Friday. A stint on the disabled list seems inevitable, and it could be a lengthy one.
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After the game, Matt Harvey, who filled in for Syndergaard on Thursday on just three hours’ notice and had a shaky outing, told reporters that he was not quite prepared to make the start.
Harvey said that he had done an intense workout Wednesday in anticipation of starting Friday’s game in Washington, and that perhaps as a result his body tightened up as Thursday’s game went on.
Harvey missed much of last season after having surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, but he has been healthy in 2017. Still, in the last week the Mets have twice used him on short notice to start a game, the first instance coming a week ago, when Jacob deGrom developed a stiff neck.
Harvey pitched better in that game, against Washington, but the Mets lost anyway. As they did a day later when deGrom returned to the rotation. Over all, the Mets have lost 10 of 11 games and are now 8-13 on the season. Counting off days, they have won only one game in the last two weeks.
“We fall down, 2-0, 1-0, we feel like we already lost,” said Jose Reyes, who hit his first home run of the season on Thursday but otherwise has struggled mightily at the plate. “As a baseball player, when you have that attitude, that’s bad. Hopefully, we can change that.”
But if things are really to change, the Mets will probably need Syndergaard to rejoin the rotation fairly soon.
Before the game, Collins said that Syndergaard had “a little bit of a tired arm” that had likely led to some tendinitis in his right biceps. However, when Syndergaard spoke with reporters after Collins was done, he also mentioned discomfort in his shoulder.
Either way, none of it was good news for a team already missing two starters, Steven Matz and Seth Lugo, neither of whom are likely to return soon.
After the game, Syndergaard did not update his status. Collins said he could not say for sure if Syndergaard had talked with a team doctor during the game, but Collins said he assumed that Syndergaard had.
Before the game, Syndergaard said he first felt the discomfort earlier this week during his normal throwing between starts. He said he then took anti-inflammatory medication and felt better.
On Wednesday, however, after playing catch, his pitching arm again stiffened up, Syndergaard said.
“I couldn’t really lift my arm above my shoulder at that point,” he said.
Syndergaard then took another anti-inflammatory. He said he hoped he could pitch again as early as Sunday, against the Nationals, but whether that will actually happen remains to be seen.
Syndergaard was a rare Mets starting pitcher who made it though all of 2016 without an injury. Cespedes has had various leg problems since joining the Mets in August 2015, and Collins was pressed after Thursday’s game as to whether the Mets should have been more cautious in letting Cespedes get back on the field this week after his hamstring first acted up.
“It’s easy to say, ‘You should’ve put him on the D.L.,’” Collins said, adding that Cespedes passed all the physical tests required by the team to return to the lineup. “But with us, every time you turn around, if we keep putting guys on the D.L. for every little thing, we can’t run anybody out there. We gave him the five days off.”
So now the Mets proceed to Washington without Cespedes but with Collins imploring them to toughen up, a view that got the endorsement of outfielder Jay Bruce, who is filling in at first base because of injuries to Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores.
“We need to be cognizant that even in tough times, and when things aren’t going our way, we don’t need to succumb to what is easy — and that is kind of going through the motions,” Bruce said. “Terry reiterated that today.”