NEW YORK -- Mets closer Bobby Parnell has been diagnosed with a herniated disk in his neck, which may require surgery.
Parnell received a series of anti-inflammatory injections last week, followed by an epidural procedure Monday in Manhattan. A day later, the Mets placed Parnell on the disabled list retroactive to July 31, meaning he is eligible to return on Aug. 15.
Whether he actually does depends upon the improvement of his condition over the next week. Though general manager Sandy Alderson said Parnell may rejoin the Mets on the first date he is eligible, he added that it is "conceivable … something more significant, more invasive would have to be considered -- surgery, possibly."
"But right now," Alderson said, "we're not at that stage."
Parnell also acknowledged that surgery is an option, and possibly the best option if he wants to avoid recurrences of the issue throughout his career. But he is not resigned to an operation just yet.
"I don't want the season to end like this," Parnell said. "I want to get back. But I've got to be smart about it, too."
Parnell was thriving in the closer's role prior to his injury, converting 22 of his 26 save opportunities with a 2.16 ERA, 44 strikeouts and 12 walks. In his absence, the Mets will turn to a committee including, according to manager Terry Collins, every member of the bullpen other than Scott Atchison.
In addition to former closers David Aardsma and LaTroy Hawkins, Collins mentioned right-handers Gonzalez Germen and Carlos Torres by name as ninth-inning candidates. If at all possible, Collins said, he will also hold back one of his two left-handed relievers -- Scott Rice and Pedro Feliciano -- for select ninth-inning matchups.
Collins said that when he initially approached Hawkins about the situation, the 40-year-old told him he would prefer to continue serving as a setup man. But Hawkins nonetheless earned the Mets' first save in Parnell's absence, pitching around two hits Tuesday in a scoreless ninth of a 3-2 win over the Rockies.
"We're going to use some different guys," Collins said. "We're going to mix and match a little bit. I'm not sure we have the one guy down there that's it, so we're going to take a look at some different people and take a look at that spot, depending on who's coming up."
Mets 'haven't considered' Valdespin's fate
NEW YORK -- Despite Jordany Valdespin's 50-game suspension for violations of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the Mets have no immediate plans to release the utility player.
"I don't think that we've even thought about that issue at this point," general manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday, a day after MLB announced Valdespin's punishment. "He's been suspended for 50 games, as has Cesar Puello, and at some point between now and the end of that suspension, we'll have had those conversations. But certainly we haven't considered that at this point."
MLB on Monday suspended both Valdespin and Puello for their connections to Biogenesis, a former anti-aging clinic in Florida linked to performance-enhancing substances.
For Puello, a top outfield prospect, the punishment is not necessarily a death sentence for his career. But Valdespin finds himself on shakier ground, considering his lengthy disciplinary history and poor production on the field; he is a career .219 hitter with a .271 on-base percentage, while advanced defensive metrics peg him as a liability at most positions. But with Valdespin's suspension running almost through the end of September, the Mets have little incentive to decide his fate right now.
Some members of the organization did not even learn of Valdespin's suspension until Sunday evening, though Alderson indicated that the Mets were not completely blindsided by the news.
"We were aware of it before yesterday," the GM said. "Let's put it that way."
But that did not make Valdespin's suspension any less disappointing to the Mets.
"Certainly we're all saddened by the fact that both Jordany and Cesar made a mistake, because they both have talent," manager Terry Collins said. "In Jordany's case, to be honest, he's got skills that a lot of them are off the charts. He's got power that a guy his size you wouldn't think has. He can run. He's got a good arm. He's just got to slow the game down. He gets caught up and he's an emotional guy."
Both Valdespin and Puello are represented by ACES, along with the majority of Major League players publicly linked to Biogenesis. But just as David Wright stood by ACES agents Sam and Seth Levinson this winter, several Mets players reaffirmed their commitment to the agency in spite of its Biogenesis connections.
"I get the good fortune of knowing what's actually going on," second baseman Daniel Murphy said of ACES, which also represents Mets players John Buck and Bobby Parnell. "Sam and Seth Levinson have been nothing but good to me. I trust them fully for my career. They speak for me. And I'm honored to be a part of ACES."