NEW YORK -- As the Mets await updated word on Shaun Marcum's injury, they have made their contingency plan all but official. With Marcum "very unlikely" to pitch against the Marlins on Sunday due to discomfort in his right shoulder and neck, left-hander Aaron Laffey is the team's first option to step into the rotation.
"Hopefully he comes in Sunday and pitches very well," manager Terry Collins said. "If he does, he'll most likely get another start. But we're going to take it one start at a time right now."
That will depend in large part upon the health of Marcum, who is scheduled to report to Citi Field on Thursday for an examination by team doctors. The Mets have changed their diagnosis of Marcum's injury twice since mid-March, and are seeking clarity on what exactly is bothering him.
"Obviously, we've got to wait until the doctors tell us what it is, but he has some real discomfort running from his shoulder up through his neck," Collins said. "What that is, where it starts, what's causing it, I think we won't know until he sees the doctors [Thursday]."
Though Marcum admitted some alarm when he first felt neck pain during a bullpen session in Port St. Lucie, Fla., last week, he indicated at the time that he had avoided the worst. Yet Marcum's continued discomfort has the Mets concerned.
Until they receive the answers that they seek, the Mets will patch their rotation with Laffey, who began stretching out as a starting pitcher in the final weeks of Spring Training. Though the Mets considered instead giving the assignment to right-hander Collin McHugh, who is already on the 40-man roster, they can easily create roster space by shifting Johan Santana to the 60-day DL.
That will allow them to activate Laffey, who started 16 games with the Blue Jays last season.
"We just thought in Spring Training from what we saw from Aaron Laffey," Collins said, "that due to his experience -- he's had some success at this level -- he would be our first option right now."