Jon Niese says it felt like he was pitching with knives in his shoulder last season

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Mets left-hander Jon Niese was bothered by some arm issues last season, but as these things often go, we don’t learn how painful it really was until way after the fact. According to Anthony McCarron of New York Newsday, Niese said Thursday that it felt like he was pitching with “knives” in his shoulder last season. Yikes:

So count Niese among the many Met folks with high hopes for 2015, although he knows there is much to prove, too. Part of the reason for his personal optimism is another winter highlight for Niese — he no longer feels “like there are knives in my (left) shoulder,” he said. “This year it feels normal.”

Niese’s shoulder problems were so bothersome last year that, he says now, “I probably should’ve missed the first month of the season.”

Niese suffered a partially torn rotator cuff in 2013, but he only missed about six weeks and managed to avoid surgery. He came down with what was described as elbow inflammation during spring training last year and missed Opening Day, but managed to make it back in early April. The southpaw then landed on the DL in early July with a left shoulder strain, but he was right back after the All-Star break and finished out the season. The good news is that he feels OK right now — in fact he says “he’s in the best shape he’s been in since 2008” — but it’s a good thing the Mets’ have some crazy rotation depth. They are probably going to need it.

Niese, 28, posted a 3.40 ERA and 138/45 K/BB ratio in 187 2/3 innings across 30 starts last season. He’s owed $7 million this season and $9 million next year with team options for 2017 and 2018.