PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The left shoulder discomfort currently derailing Jon Niese may not be directly connected to the rotator cuff he partially tore last summer, but the two are nonetheless related.
"I kind of blame [the discomfort] on myself," Niese said, referencing its relationship to last summer's cuff tear. "This offseason, that's pretty much all I was working on. I neglected the other things, so everything was at an imbalance. That's when I started having the shoulder-pinching issues and discomfort."
In that sense, the discomfort Niese felt earlier this week may have been something of a blessing. The Mets' presumptive Opening Day starter will skip his first Grapefruit League start, but because his MRI results came back clean, he does not expect to miss much more than that. Niese will simply work on strengthening the scap muscles in the shoulder, which had been weak enough to alter the alignment of his shoulder blade. That, in turn, created the "pinching" sensation that forced him off the mound earlier this week.
"The MRI revealed that my shoulder this year is actually better than it was last year," Niese said. "[Mets team physician Dr. David Altchek] said everything was healed and everything was clean, it's just the fact that there are little weak spots."
Niese returned to camp Friday morning following a 24-hour trip to New York for the MRI. He is not sure how soon he will return to game action, but expects to be fully healthy for Opening Day.
"I don't foresee it being a setback if I get everything strong," Niese said.