The New York Mets are familiar with how back injuries can have an impact on some players, so the team should be careful with how they handle Neil Walker’s lower back.
New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker has had a great season in his first year in Queens.
He has smashed 22 home runs, which is already a career-high mark. Additionally, has hit more home runs against lefties this year (seven) than he has in his entire career prior to 2016 (six).
After slumping in the middle of the season, the switch-hitter has bounced back and is hitting like he did earlier this year.
He has missed the last four games with lower back issues but he is expected back soon, perhaps when the Mets finish up a four-game series in San Francisco.
It’s not much of an issue at this point, so the Mets should not make it more severe by rushing him if he’s not 100-percent. The National League playoff race must be put aside.
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If he is at 100-percent or close to it then there’s no issue bring him back but if not, the Mets should look at last couple of years to see how back injuries have impacted some of their players.
We all remember last season when team captain David Wright missed a huge chunk of the year with a spinal stenosis. He did, in fact, come back for the stretch run and the playoffs and had some big games, but there’s no doubt that he is not the same player he once was in his prime.
This season, it was starting first baseman Lucas Duda who got sidelined for the majority of the campaign lower back issues. It started as a minor problem but became a major issue as Duda went on the DL. He was projected to back sometime in the second half but he’s suffered through some setbacks while rehabbing, effectively ending his season.
Back injuries are some of the most serious injuries not only in sports but life in general.
Neil Walker has certainly been the Mets hottest hitter lately. While the Mets definitely need him for the stretch run, they also have to be smart and not risk his health in the long-term.
Walker will become a free agent after this season and, with the Mets shipping projected future second baseman Dilson Herrera to the Cincinnati Reds for Jay Bruce, the 30-year-old is the team’s best option at second next year.
The Mets have already activated Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera, so the offense should be in decent hands.
Walker can be just as important as these two players and will be much more fruitful with a healthy lower back. Terry Collins: do not risk Walker’s back as it will hurt not only his future but possibly the Mets’ infield future as well.