This was Terry Collins explaining why Noah Syndergaard’s batting-practice session, in which the rehabbing right-hander was scheduled to throw to hitters on Wednesday was being postponed for a day or two.
More importantly, this was also the manager of the Mets, even if unwittingly, laying out what must become the organization’s guiding principle when it comes to handling its pitchers.
“We’re going to err on the side of precaution and give him some extra time,” Collins said before the Replace-Mets defeated the Diamondbacks 4-2 in Queens for their second victory in their last 10 games. “I think we were maybe kind of pushing it a little fast in wanting to get him back so we’re going to delay it a day or so.
“We talked about it and got a lot of people together, including the trainers, and they said they’d like to take an extra day with him. I think you’ll see him throwing to hitters soon.”
For what earthly purpose were the Mets hurrying Syndergaard’s return in this lost season? And if it was the pitcher — who infamously refused an MRI exam immediately before sustaining the torn lat muscle pitching in Washington on April 30 that has since sidelined him — who was pushing it, then he has got to be as slow a learner as they come.
It is not about guts and glory for the star-crossed stars on the Mets’ depleted staff. It never has been, or should have been, about that.
It is about prudence. About operating with joint responsibility toward both the franchise and the athletes under their care and employ.
The Mets should have learned that precept — again — in the wake of the Steven Matz fiasco through which the left-hander was belatedly diagnosed with a damaged ulnar nerve in his elbow on Monday following a run of eight starts beginning on July 9 in which he pitched to an optical illusion-like 10.19 ERA.
After nearly every one of those starts, Collins talked about how the 26-year-old Matz needed to learn how to be more effective when at less than 100-percent. The pitcher likely will be more effective upon his return next season following surgery that was performed on Wednesday.
General manager Sandy Alderson has yet to address the circumstances behind the delayed nature of the Matz prognosis that represents the latest episode calling into question the Mets’ methodology of protecting the health of their pitchers, who, after all, only supply the organization with its plasma.
Maybe it has all been blind, dumb luck that has struck down every one of the Mets’ Fab Five, from Syndergaard to Matz to Matt Harvey to Jacob deGrom to Zack Wheeler at one point or another over the past two seasons. Maybe there is nothing the administration and medical staff could have done to prevent even a single mishap. Maybe there is no proof of a single instance of baseball misfeasance.
Stephen Strasburg has thrown 800-plus innings over 132 starts (58-35, 3.26, 122 ERA-plus) and signed a seven-year, $175 million contract extension since the Nationals shut him down on a hard innings-limit count in early September 2012, even with the club going to the postseason as division champs.
Harvey, meanwhile, has encountered thoracic outlet syndrome and a stress injury to his right shoulder scapula bone in throwing a mostly ineffective 163 innings over 30 starts (8-13, 5.02, 82 ERA-plus) since blowing by his 2015 recommended innings-limit with a heavy postseason workload after his return from Tommy John.
Remember how Harvey was forced to recant and pledge his fealty to the goal of winning a World Series after the innings-limit imbroglio surfaced? Of course you do.
Ask yourself this: If you are a pitcher, are you trusting this organization with your arm, and thus, with your livelihood?
And if you are an agent with a young pitcher as a client, are you confident the Mets are the best organization to nurture him?
Collins said postponing Syndergaard’s session did not mean the pitcher had suffered a setback in his rehab. It was just the Mets exercising precaution.
Know it or not, it was Collins issuing words for the organization to live by.