Durkin coming back from surgery

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Following an extremely light workout, Matt Durkin walked through the Mets' minor league clubhouse Monday with a six-inch wrap enveloping his pitching arm.

This would be no great event if it were, say, six months earlier and Durkin had just completed an effort for the Hagerstown Suns in the South Atlantic League.

But the protective wrap was necessary after Durkin had surgery last September to move the ulnar nerve in his pitching forearm, extracting bone spurs.

Now, caution is the name of the game, and even after tossing lightly on the back fields of the Mets' St. Lucie complex, Durkin is taking it easy.

"It was such a weird feeling, sitting in that room and knowing I'd be coming out with a big scar on my arm," Durkin said. "I just tried to stay as positive as I could, because it was only going to make me a better pitcher."

In his first year in the Mets' organization, Durkin – a second round pick in 2004 from San Jose State – went 4-5 with a 3.77 ERA in 19 games (14 starts) for the Suns. Though he only allowed 32 runs in 76.1 innings, Durkin walked 54 batters.

Sent to the Instructional League to work on his control and mechanics, Durkin began to feel a dull, achy sensation in his right pinky and ring fingers. With the bone spurs revealed by Mets team physician Dr. David Altchek in New York, Durkin was advised to have the surgery.

"I could have waited it out, but then who knows?" Durkin said. "I could have missed all of next year. Now I'm doing physical therapy and just trying to get stronger."

Durkin expects to hear by Wednesday if he'll be ready to start throwing off a mound. He fully expects to be pitching in Spring Training.

Looking back on his first pro season, Durkin admits the bone spurs could have had an impact, especially on his walk totals, but says he doesn't want to cook up excuses.

"I would have liked to have done better," Durkin said. "But I got to meet some good guys, play with some good players and learned a lot of things.

"Now, I've just got to put that to good use with a year under my belt. I have a greater idea what's going on."

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