Billy Wagner will be in Florida Tuesday to hopefully pitch off a mound. Wagner, who will be 38 in July, is seventh months removed from Tommy John Surgery to his left elbow.
Wagner is itching to return, and believes he will be back by July or August this season. He does realize that he won't be the closer, but he wants to help this team in their quest to win a World Series.
Speaking about his rehab, Wagner offers, "I do exactly what I'm told, but I'm going to break the rules by getting back before they expect it. ... With no big setbacks, I'm kinda shooting for late in July or August. But we'll see. I know I have a lot of hurdles. I told Omar [that] everybody doubting me is my motivation. ... that, and getting a ring.
"I'm going to get back. I'm not going to get any saves. But I'd like to help. That could be some bullpen."
With 385 career saves, Wagner ranks five behind Hall Of Famer Dennis Eckersley. He does not seem to be bitter about the cards he has been dealt, and in interviews, seems to be behind his teammates 100%, realizing he might not pitch for the Mets again, since his contract expires at the end of the 2009 season.
The most important thing is that Wagner doesn't over-do it. He needs to realize that along with hard rehab work, he must give his body time to heal. If he is able to return to the Mets for the late season push towards the post season, will he be a asset, or a distraction?