Noah Syndergaard is feeling better than he's ever felt before, he recently told MLB.com's David Adler.
"The offseason's been a lot of fun, it's gone by quick, but I got some quality work in and I'm ready to hit the ground running in the 2018 season," Syndergaard added.
Syndergaard missed nearly five months in 2017 after suffering a partially torn lat muscle. He returned to make two starts at the end of the season. He reported gaining 17 pounds of muscle between 2016 and 2017 with hopes of building more strength and increasing velocity on his fastball.
"I realized how jacked up my body was last year, and I've been working extra hard to make sure it's loose and it's limber and as mobile as it can possibly be," Syndergaard said, according to Adler.
Mar 2, 2017; Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard walk to the dugout in St. Lucie. Credit: USA Today
The Mets have hired Jim Cavallini to be their Director of High (or Peak) Performance. From what I can gather, Cavallini will organize the entire medical department, including short-term and long-term training programs, nutrition, rehabilitation, kinesiology, mental toughness, and "sports science services." Also, he will not travel with the team, but instead remain at Citi Field examining information about the overall health of each player as opposed to only things that are relevant to that specific day's game.
"I think baseball is a little behind the other sports in using this model," Mets assistant GM John Ricco told SNY's Mets Hot Stove earlier this winter when asked about the sports sciences. "The days of two trainers and the head trainer taping ankles and also overseeing the medical staff, I think, are behind us. There's just too much information and other points of data that need to be looked at for one person, who's also hands-on, to do it all."
I shudder to think how many games Terry Collins was forced to play shorthanded because a player was riding the bench and being evaluated at the same time. How many skipped starts could have been avoided? How many injuries were ignored or rushed and led to more costly injuries down the road? How many missed games could have been avoided had players had a better understanding of nutrition and mental training skills?
My hunch is the Mets believe these answers are sizable, at least enough so that they felt it necessary to make some important and revolutionary changes to the way they do business...
Injuries are going to happen to every player in every sport. It's part of the game, especially in baseball, which is only played well when having exceptionally fine motor skills. That said, based on the evidence (injuries, time on the disabled list, replacing staff, creating new positions, etc.), the Mets were handling the health and well-being of their players in a less-than-optimal way the last few seasons.
New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler throws in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the New York Mets, Friday, March 10, 2017, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
I'd love to eradicate injuries altogether, but it's just not possible. Instead, I'll gladly settle for the Mets better managing their injuries so guys maybe avoid the disabled list or at least are on and off it in the least amount of time possible.
Similarly, new Mets pitching coach Dave Eiland recently told the NY Post's Mike Puma that he's encouraged to hear his pitchers are doing well with the team's new offseason throwing program.
Instead of doing things the way it had been done under Terry Collins, Eiland told Puma that he and new Mets manager Mickey Callaway created the program so their staff could arrive to spring training in "pitching shape."
Mets pitchers and catchers are required to be in Port St. Lucie for spring training by Feb. 12.
"I'm really excited," Syndergaard told Adler. "Hopefully everyone stays healthy throughout Spring Training and then throughout the whole season. As a pitching staff, we've never really been able to experience everyone healthy all at the same time. So it will be fun."
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...