NEW YORK -- Expecting their closer to miss a minimum of six weeks, the Mets on Wednesday officially placed Bobby Parnell on the disabled list with a partially torn MCL in his right elbow, purchasing the contract of right-hander Kyle Farnsworth. Parnell will rest for the next two weeks, then begin a four-week rehab program that will determine if he can avoid Tommy John surgery.
"I think Bobby wants to try," general manager Sandy Alderson said of his choosing rehab over surgery. "We certainly endorse the conservative approach for the time being."
Even if Parnell can successfully rehab his elbow ligament, Alderson said, the tear will remain. That means Parnell will always be at risk of completely tearing the ligament.
Rehabbing will also cost Parnell a critical month of recovery time should he ultimately opt to undergo Tommy John surgery, which typically requires a 12-month rehab. But both he and the Mets felt it was their most prudent course of action.
"There's always a question of timing, and the fact that we're investing a period of time in a conservative approach," Alderson said. "But I think all things considered, the best approach in this case is the conservative route. Hopefully that will work for Bobby, and he'll be back as soon as possible."
Alderson added that when Parnell complained of right forearm tightness after Monday's game, it was the first he knew of any arm injury. Parnell's velocity may have been down throughout Spring Training as he worked his way back from neck surgery, but the closer insisted throughout that he was healthy.
Now he is not, and the Mets are turning to veteran closer Jose Valverde to replace him. Though prospects Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom could play roles in the bullpen later this summer, Alderson said, that will not happen until at least May. So Valverde is the team's exclusive option for the short term.
"I feel bad for Bobby," Valverde said. "What I want is for Bobby to be OK. I saw in Spring Training that he's a great guy and a good teammate. I want this guy to come back soon. I want him closing games for the Mets."
C. Young's Mets debut lasts one inning
NEW YORK -- Chris Young's Mets debut lasted all of an inning.
Young returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing Opening Day with a mild right quad strain, but aggravated his injury chasing an Adam LaRoche fly ball in the top of the first. Though Young stayed in the game for the rest of that inning, he did not return to the field after meeting with trainer Ray Ramirez during the bottom of the first.
Andrew Brown replaced Young, who did not make a plate appearance, in left field.
"It feels like a bad dream," Young said. "It's the last way you want to come with a new team. I feel terrible about it."
The Mets officially classified Young's injury as a tight right quad, and manager Terry Collins indicated after the game that he would discuss his options -- including a possible disabled list stint -- with general manager Sandy Alderson. If Young must miss significant time, the Mets may simply keep Brown -- who was tentatively slated to go back to Triple-A Las Vegas this weekend -- on the active roster.
The game was Young's first with the Mets after signing a one-year, $7.25 million deal with the team this winter.
"He warmed up before the game and absolutely felt no problem," Collins said. "It goes to show you when you're warm and you're running sprints, you feel great until you've got to go stand out there for two or three or five minutes. He went after that ball in the corner and felt it grab, so he came off."
Young's injury altered what had been an unorthodox pregame lineup for the Mets. Because Eric Young entered the day 0-for-8 lifetime against Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, Collins chose to bat Juan Lagares leadoff and keep Eric Young on the bench. Collins said that although he used Chris Young in the leadoff spot multiple times during Spring Training, he prefers to have his power bat lower in the lineup.
That means that at least for now, Eric Young and Lagares will exclusively split leadoff duties for the Mets.
Despite the absence of Young, Collins' lineup will receive a boost Thursday, when second baseman Daniel Murphy returns from paternity leave. Though Murphy received criticism on local sports-talk radio for missing two games due to the birth of his son, Collins and Alderson both said the second baseman was well within his rights.
Major League Baseball established a paternity-leave list several years ago so that teams would not have to play shorthanded in these situations. To that end, the Mets on Wednesday recalled Wilmer Flores from Triple-A Las Vegas, starting him at second base in what should be a one-day patch.
"The paternity-leave policy was introduced not just for the player's benefit, but I think recognition by clubs in contemporary times that this is an appropriate time for parents to be together," Alderson said. "So I've got absolutely no problem whatsoever with Murph being away."
Niese declares himself 'completely normal'
NEW YORK -- Left-hander Jon Niese rejoined his teammates Wednesday at Citi Field in preparation for his Sunday start against the Reds.
Niese deemed himself "completely normal" after throwing 80 pitches in a Minor League game Tuesday, and expects to give the Mets as many as 95 pitches in his season debut. He began this season on the disabled list with left elbow discomfort.
Though Niese missed significant time this spring with left elbow and shoulder issues, and after sitting out nearly two months last season with a partially torn left rotator cuff, he is not concerned that issues will keep resurfacing.
"I'm not worried at all," Niese said. "I've got a good workout routine. I'm not worried. It's all behind me."
Mets value what Abreu's approach can teach
NEW YORK -- When Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens managed Bobby Abreu in the Venezuelan Winter League, he saw all the tools that once made Abreu one of the most disciplined hitters of his generation.
"He's not an everyday guy anymore, but he'll give you a good at-bat," Hudgens said of Abreu, whom the Mets signed to a Minor League contract earlier this week. "He can be a good guy off the bench, plus he's a good influence on some of the young guys, as far as how to take an at-bat, how not to panic, not going out of the strike zone -- the kind of things we like to teach."
Hudgens pointed to Abreu's winter ball at-bats against Henderson Alvarez, Edgmer Escalona and other big league pitchers as evidence that the 40-year-old can still succeed at baseball's highest level. Still, for right now, the Mets have no long-term plans for Abreu. They will simply send him to Triple-A Las Vegas and, if he performs well, consider using him as a reserve later this season.
"He's somebody that we think, conceivably at some point, could be a guy off the bench," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "He's got a great approach at the plate. So at this point, signing him to a contract to Las Vegas was attractive to us."