NEW YORK -- To Seth Lugo, the specter of Tommy John surgery is not a significant worry. Lugo has never felt pain, only tightness in his elbow, which he learned Monday stems from a partial ligament tear. So he is confident that when doctors allow him to start throwing again in two weeks, Lugo will do so without issue.
The Mets are less convinced, citing Lugo's MRI results as reason for concern.
"The doctors are optimistic that he can avoid surgery," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "But we would not have put in the surgical reference in the press release if we didn't think that was a possibility."
Already, Lugo has canvassed the Mets' clubhouse for opinions of teammates -- Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Josh Edgin -- who have undergone Tommy John surgery. Because his symptoms are not as severe as most of theirs, Lugo believes he can avoid the same fate.
"We haven't talked about surgery," Lugo said of his conversations with doctors. "I told them I haven't felt any pain. It's like a sprained ankle -- you don't have surgery for a sprained ankle. This is a sprained elbow."
It is actually a partially torn UCL, which doctors believe he suffered within the past month.
It's worth noting that if Lugo did not injure his elbow during World Baseball Classic play, he likely did it either ramping up for the Classic or winding down from it. Asked if he would make the same decision to participate in the event knowing what he does now, Lugo said he cannot answer until his elbow drama plays out.
"There are always going to be injuries when you have that many players involved in that many games," Alderson said. "It's always easier in retrospect to take a look at things. But we have been committed to the WBC. We continue to be."
For now, the Mets are more worried about what Lugo's absence does to their once-vaunted pitching depth. With Lugo and Matz both on the disabled list, the Mets plan to avoid overtaxing their healthy five starters, knowing their next options begin with unproven arms such as Rafael Montero, Sean Gilmartin and Adam Wilk.
"Anytime you lose quality starting pitching, that's concerning," manager Terry Collins said. "That's why we've got to be more cautious than ever, certainly in the first few weeks of the season, to make sure we don't overdo it. We came out of Spring Training saying we're seven deep, and right now we're not. We're five deep."
"It's not really frustrating -- that's why we have the depth," Alderson said. "It's unfortunate we had to use it so early, but hopefully it will present itself again in mid-May. And in the meantime, we've started to just kind of sniff around for additional depth. It's an ongoing process."
• Juan Lagares (strained left oblique) will play in a Minor League game on Monday, and should return to the Mets by the middle of next week. Fellow outfielder Brandon Nimmo (strained right hamstring) is now suffering from a bruise on his hand, but is also making progress according to Alderson.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.