NEW YORK -- Mets closer Bobby Parnell has been diagnosed with a herniated disk in his neck, which may require surgery.
Parnell received a series of anti-inflammatory injections last week, followed by an epidural procedure Monday in Manhattan. A day later, the Mets placed Parnell on the disabled list retroactive to July 31, meaning he is eligible to return on Aug. 15.
Whether he actually does depends upon the improvement of his condition over the next week. Though general manager Sandy Alderson said Parnell may rejoin the Mets on the first date he is eligible, he added that it is "conceivable … something more significant, more invasive would have to be considered -- surgery, possibly."
"But right now," Alderson said, "we're not at that stage."
Parnell also acknowledged that surgery is an option, and possibly the best option if he wants to avoid recurrences of the issue throughout his career. But he is not resigned to an operation just yet.
"I don't want the season to end like this," Parnell said. "I want to get back. But I've got to be smart about it, too."
Parnell was thriving in the closer's role prior to his injury, converting 22 of his 26 save opportunities with a 2.16 ERA, 44 strikeouts and 12 walks. In his absence, the Mets will turn to a committee including, according to manager Terry Collins, every member of the bullpen other than Scott Atchison.
In addition to former closers David Aardsma and LaTroy Hawkins, Collins mentioned right-handers Gonzalez Germen and Carlos Torres by name as ninth-inning candidates. If at all possible, Collins said, he will also hold back one of his two left-handed relievers -- Scott Rice and Pedro Feliciano -- for select ninth-inning matchups.
Collins said that when he initially approached Hawkins about the situation, the 40-year-old told him he would prefer to continue serving as a setup man. But Hawkins nonetheless earned the Mets' first save in Parnell's absence, pitching around two hits Tuesday in a scoreless ninth of a 3-2 win over the Rockies.
"We're going to use some different guys," Collins said. "We're going to mix and match a little bit. I'm not sure we have the one guy down there that's it, so we're going to take a look at some different people and take a look at that spot, depending on who's coming up."