Credit Seth Wenig/Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — When a sizable and painful bone spur was discovered in the back of Steven Matz’s throwing elbow in early May, he took a brief break, received a cortisone shot and returned to the mound. Surgery was considered when the discomfort returned in June, but Matz and the Mets decided he would continue pitching as they all tried to manage the problem properly.
Deep into his first full major league season, Matz’s elbow has reacted to pitching and treatment in unexpected ways.
“I’m pretty surprised at how it’s responded, and I’m really happy with it,” said Matz, a left-handed starter.
Since Matz’s bone spur was spotted on a magnetic resonance imaging exam in early May, he has posted a 3.59 E.R.A. over 97 ⅔ innings. Over the past three weeks, Matz has been even sharper. On Sunday, he carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field.
“Honestly, my elbow has really turned the corner,” Matz said. “Since the All-Star break, it really hasn’t bothered me that much. It hasn’t really been something I’ve had to battle in between starts. I really feel normal at this point.”
Although his elbow has felt good, Matz suffered an unrelated injury this week. While throwing after his most recent start, Matz felt a twinge in his left shoulder. The discomfort persisted, so the Mets will skip Matz’s scheduled start on Friday and use Seth Lugo instead.
“It’s kind of disappointing that I didn’t bounce back the way I wanted to this past start,” Matz said. “I’m really not too, too worried about it. I’ll hopefully miss just one start.”
Bone spurs are consequences of the repetitive force of pitching. When bone is pressured or damaged, it re-forms — sometimes in an uncomfortable spot in the elbow.
Doctors reassured Mets officials and Matz that he would not further damage his elbow or his ulnar collateral ligament, which was replaced through Tommy John surgery in 2010, if he continued to pitch with the bone spur. He would just have to deal with the pain.