WASHINGTON -- Mets left-hander Tim Byrdak thought his career might be over late last season, when he left the club with an injury. It turned out that he had torn the anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder, a rare diagnosis, especially for a reliever.
"Last year when I left, it was hard," Byrdak said Sunday, when he rejoined the Mets after they selected his contract from Triple-A Las Vegas. "[I had] tears in my eyes because we didn't know what was going to happen. Really there was a good, strong chance I was never going to get back to this level. I remember laying in an MRI tube as my wife and kids were flying into New York and getting the news as they were landing that the capsule was torn. So it's very emotional. Looking at possibly the end and to be able to come back here, it's great."
Byrdak didn't return to game action until June 22. After stints at two lower levels, the 39-year-old made 11 scoreless appearances for Las Vegas, giving up six hits and five walks while striking out 10 over eight innings. In two seasons for the Mets, he had a 4.08 ERA across 128 games and held left-handed hitters to a .195 average.
He is still building strength in his shoulder but has benefited from a revamped throwing program and his talk with former Mets pitcher Chris Young, who had the same injury. While his velocity fluctuates between 83-87 mph, he now is one of three lefties in the Mets' bullpen, meaning manager Terry Collins won't have to lean on him like he did at times the past two years.
Still, Byrdak said he is hoping to take advantage of the chance to show the Mets he should be part of their plans for next season.
"They've been tremendous to me and my family," Byrdak said. "They've given me this opportunity, so hopefully I can make the most of it."