There is something in the water in New York City.
Last year, the New York Yankees had a more impressive injured list team than healthy team most of the year. This year, the New York Mets are doing their best to one-up the Yankees,
Amongst all of the injured Mets, no case has been more frustrating than that of Carlos Carrasco
The hamstring that won't heal
The latest update from the New York Mets is disappointing. They don't have a timetable for when Carrasco will start his rehab assignment.
When Carrasco came over to the New York Mets in a trade from the Cleveland Indians, he was supposed to bolster the rotation for a World Series run. Instead, Carrasco remains a potential boost on paper only.
Carrasco is considered an injury prone player, frequenting the injured list. His season was off to an ominous start when he reported elbow soreness on March 10th. While working through it, he suffered a hamstring tear a week later.
The initial rehab timeline given falls in line with most hamstring strains. He was supposed to be back in about six weeks. As a physical therapist who has rehabilitated many hamstring strains, I concurred with this diagnosis. I was so confident in the return I traded for him in my fantasy baseball league.
That trade isn't looking good for me or the Mets.
Carrasco went on a rehabilitation assignment in the beginning of May and the minor leaguers he faced reported his stuff was unhittable. Curiously, a few days later the Mets halted the rehabilitation and provided no further updates.
Many expected him to only need that single rehab start, maybe one more. Instead, he was shut down, despite no mention of a re-aggravation. Since then, he was only performed light tossing and a couple of bullpen sessions.
What is going on?
I have a feeling the tear was a severe grade 2 strain and the Mets are concerned about his durability. The latest reports suggest the Mets are focused on strengthening the hamstring. This is a good long-term strategy.
The Mets are in contention for the NL East crown and Carrasco is needed for a playoff run. With the previous elbow issues, there is no reason to have him return at anything less than 100%.
Perhaps they rushed his first rehabilitation stint. Perhaps he felt soreness after the rehab start and they didn't want to chance it.
Muscle strains are not all created equal. Rehabbing a muscle strain (the medical term for a tear) takes months to fully recover. Six weeks is enough time to return to sport and be pain-free, but the risk for a second injury remains higher than for someone without a history of a hamstring strain. It takes months for muscles and tendons to recover fully.
For Mets fans wondering when Carrasco will return, be patient. It is better the Mets take their time than rush him back so he can break down in the second half of the season. There is no urgency to get him back right now. With a 3.5 game lead in the division and many position players set to come back over the next month - Davis, Nimmo, and McNeil - the waiting game is preferred.
New York still needs to solve its overall injury issues, but I think Carrasco is being handled the right way.