Saturday, February 06, 2010

Jose Reyes 'Comeback' Portends Trouble for Mets

Injured Mets shortstop Jose Reyes' recent workout demonstration may have been good enough for team vice president David Howard and a bevy of metropolitan reporters that showed up for the coverage at Professional Athletic Performance Center in Garden City, N.Y., but the ill-starred superstar still has a long, long way to go before he can be declared fully recovered.

Though Reyes pledged he would be back "100 percent" come opening day, and urged ticket buyers to, "come and see the show," consider a modest word to the wise: Don't believe the hype.

Yes, Reyes was clocked at 3.52 seconds running the distance between home and first base, and he easily darted and dashed left and right as he fielded a series of bouncing tennis balls. In the course of 90 minutes, he bounded and bounced and biked and stretched, all marks of significant progress for a player coming off a second of two surgeries that left him on crutches as recently as the end of October.

But if his was merely a hamstring injury -- plus the complications of a calf strain and inflammation -- that would be one thing. But this is no ordinary hamstring injury, it is a displacement of the hamstring tendon, a critical tear that fundamentally could leave him with a significant impairment of mobility for the remainder of his life, and about which medical experts must remain guarded even in the best of circumstances.

We are in fact ultimately talking about a breakdown -- a disconnection if you will -- of the sophisticated pully system that impacts rudimentary athlectic command over the lower extremities of both legs, both being equal parts of a working tandem. This is the last line between the bone and the hamstring, the disruption of which marks the type of injury one would more easily find in the rodeo bullring, beneath the horses' legs on the turf of a polo match, or in the back of a crashed automobile, having plunged off the escarpment of the Jersey Pallisades.

It can be fixed but with great difficulty, and only after much time, patience, wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Thus, the view from here is that Jose Reyes likely will not finish the 2010 season, certainly not without tiresome visits to the trainer's table. Every time he gets hurt -- and he will get hurt -- he will be out four to six weeks. If he injures himself the way he did before, he could be out permanently.

This is not rocket science. Any physician trained in trauma can foresee the potential for trouble because of the very nature of the injury, and because Reyes is not just some stationary lummox who stands at first base merely to take throws from across the diamond, or waits on the bench for a chance to pinch hit. We are talking about a finely tuned, high-powered little sports car of a man who trades on speed, hustle, daring and precision carburation and rack and pinion steering.

To be effective, he must have unfettered dominion over all his talents, tools and skills., particularly as he approaches the potential zenith of his prowess at his 27th birthday in June.

With hot-and-cold hitting Jason Bay's medical condition having been disparaged by Red Sox doctors, with Carlos Beltran set to miss the opening of the season with another knee problem, and David Wright having struggled to hit even a mere dozen home runs last year, it looks as though another long, long season may be in the offing for Jose Reyes and the Mets.