Normally when you hear “torn ligament” the first thing that comes to mind is surgery, but it doesn’t seem that will be necessary for New York Mets right-hander Jeremy Hefner. The 27 year old reportedly has a torn ligament in his right elbow, but instead of undergoing surgery the team believes that two weeks of rest and strengthening will be enough for Hefner to return to the team and pitch again this season.
Hefner had been optioned to Triple-A over the weekend in order to make room for Jonathan Niese, but once the tear was discovered the team was able to void the option in order to place him on the DL instead, according to ESPNNewYork’s Adam Rubin. He’d made 24 appearances (23 starts) on the year, spending the whole time with the team’s Major League club, throwing 130.2 IP with a 4-8 record, 4.34 ERA, and 1.293 WHIP.
Examinations by team doctors found enough to warrant a follow-up at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan Wednesday afternoon. An MRI revealed a torn medial collateral ligament in Hefner’s right elbow. Rubin learned that it is a “chronic condition that has worsened”, which further begs the question of why the team is opting to avoid surgery. One would think that a medical procedure performed now could potentially alleviate the condition long term, while permitting the necessary rehab time to help Hefner return ready for Spring Training. I’m no doctor and can’t speculate exactly what the reasons are behind the team’s decision against immediate surgery. Hefner’s just 27 and not yet arbitration eligible. The Mets aren’t going to reach the playoffs this season. Shutting him down for the remainder of 2013 on the chance that it makes him better for 2014 doesn’t seem like such a poor decision.