(above, rare footage of Mets trainer S. Guttenberg prior to seeking a degree south of the border)

While Mets GM Omar Minaya defends his training staff (“these guys are pros, they do a very good job and I’m fully confident that they’re going to handle it well”), the Newark Star-Ledger’s Brian Costa surveys tens of millions of dollars on the (Amazin) DL and sneers, “Again and again, the Mets have either seriously downplayed or grossly underestimated the extent of a player’s injury…the Mets don’t need to acquire a slugger or a starting pitcher. They need to hire Dr. House.”

Consider the case of the following 4 players :

Delgado: Injury was said to be soreness, then inflammation, then an impingement, then an impingement with a bone spur until, finally, it was a torn labrum, too. Either the injury was worse than the team initially thought or Delgado made it worse by trying to play through it and not going on the DL sooner — which would contradict what the team initially said, that he couldn’t make it any worse by playing.

Reyes: Explaining the decision not to put Reyes on the DL on May 22, Minaya said: “Based upon the medical information, it shouldn’t take two weeks. Why would we DL him two weeks?” Reyes went on the DL four days later with tendinitis in his right calf. On Wednesday, he left an extended spring game in pain, and an MRI revealed Thursday that Reyes had a small tear in his hamstring tendon. It is not clear whether he sustained the injury during the extended spring game, or if he had it earlier and it was simply not detected.

Putz: An MRI taken May 13 revealed inflammation and a bone spur — the same kind of injury, albeit in a different place, that ended John Maine’s season last year — but the Mets believed Putz could pitch through it. He did, but struggled considerably and caused the bone spur to break off into fragments in the back of his elbow. He said he felt “sharp pain” during a side session Wednesday, but was used in Thursday’s game before seeing doctors Friday.

Francisco Rodriguez: K-Rod might be healthy now, but it was stunning to watch what happened when he came down with severe back spasms May 23 at Boston. After speaking to reporters, Rodriguez had trouble standing up in front of his locker. He had been given a medical waist belt to wrap around his lower back, but there wasn’t a trainer in sight to help him put it on, so he had the team’s bullpen catcher, Dave Racaniello, do it. Yes, the bullpen catcher, asked to help the ailing $37 million closer. Then, moments later, K-Rod — still in visible and severe pain — was allowed to walk without any assistance from the clubhouse to a golf cart waiting outside. He never made it — not on his own, anyway — collapsing near a doorway before medical personnel took him out of Fenway on a stretcher.

Speaking of guys who’ve been misdiagnosed, RF Ryan Church returned from a 15 day stint on the disabled list with a double and a run scored in the Mets’ 5 run first inning in Washington. Livan Hernandez has held the Nats to a mere 3 hits over 5 IP, building hope that someday the Cuban right-hander will be as effective a big leaguer as John Lannan.