Mets closer Bobby Parnell has a partially torn elbow ligament after just 25 pitches this season and might need surgery.
The injury means 36-year-old Jose Valverde is likely to take over as closer for now in an already thin bullpen. Valverde, a three-time All-Star, has struggled with control in recent years.
Parnell gave up Denard Span’s tying double in the ninth inning during Monday’s opening 9-7 loss to Washington.
It was the right-hander’s first save opportunity since a neck injury that required surgery and sidelined him for the final two months last season.
He complained of tightness in his right elbow after Monday’s game. The Mets said he was examined Tuesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery, had an MRI and was diagnosed with a partial tear of the right medial collateral ligament.
Parnell averaged 92.1 mph for 20 two-seam fastballs during Monday’s outing, according to fangraphs.com, down from 94.9 mph last year and 96 mph in 2012.
New York said he received a plasma injection and will rest about two weeks. Parnell then will start a throwing program, and a decision on surgery will be made after that.
Foreign players total drops
The percentage of Major League Baseball players born outside the United States declined slightly for the second straight season.
The commissioner’s office said Tuesday that 223 players among the 853 on opening-day rosters and inactive lists were born outside the 50 states.
At 26.1 percent, the share is down from 28.2 percent last year and from 28.4 percent in 2012.
Players come from 16 countries and territories, the most since 2008.
The Dominican Republic has topped the list each year since MLB began tracking the numbers in 2005. But its 82 players are down from a high of 99 in 2007.
Venezuela was next with 59, followed by Cuba, which set a high with 19 — four more than its previous mark set last year.
Puerto Rico had 11.