Friday, August 29, 2008

Billy Wagner May Not Finish Year Unless Needed

With only a month left to play it hardly seems likely that the Mets will fall from playoff contention -- like last year -- but if so, closer Billy Wagner's health appears so questionable that he likely won't make another appearance without a playoff berth at stake.

The hard-throwing lefty has been approaching the breaking point of his smallish, 5-foot-10, 37-year-old frame, with the only wonder that his excessively violent throwing motion has not caused him to reach this point sooner.

While the Mets watch as deadlines have lapsed for his anticipated return, Wagner is playing catch in addition to other rehabilitation exercises to reduce discomfort and swelling in the elbow of his throwing arm. The objective is to build up healthy tissue to, in effect, replace strength lost because of permanently ruptured or frayed strands of tendon.

Anti-inflammatory medicines help reduce discomfort and swelling, which have been tenacious.

Wagner -- with another year remaining on his $43 million contract -- remains invaluable to the Mets' divisional race. He was among the league leaders with 27 saves when he went down, though he has blown seven.

Expect him to make every effort to return by the end of September as long as there's a point to it.