As much as we're all sick of "Best Shape of His Life" spring training stories, this story about Jon Niese is too awesome not to write about.
As pitchers and catchers around the league officially reported to spring training on Monday, the Mets' lefty talked to reporters about some offseason changes he made.
Among other things, the 25-year-old lefthander said he lost 10 pounds, thanks in part to better conditioning that he attributed indirectly to former teammate Carlos Beltran.
Before the veteran outfielder was traded away last July, Beltran joked with Niese about his nose, saying things like "Hey, we need to get you a new nose," according to Niese.
While it started as a joke amongst teammates, Niese took him up on the offer and decided to actually get a rhinoplasty to alter the shape of his nose.
"He wanted me to have a new nose," Niese said of Beltran. "So he offered to pay for it. I was just like, 'Alright.' Then it turned into seeing doctors and to getting it fixed."
Adam Rubin of ESPN.com snapped a photo of Niese's new nose, which the pitcher indicated has actually helped his conditioning as a result.
“It’s just so much easier for me to breathe," Niese said. "It's helped a lot with my running, it helps with my working out.
The fact that Carlos Beltran happens to have been the teammate that inspired the procedure adds an incredible comedic element to the story.
Update: Beltran has received the bill and will indeed pay for the procedure, Rubin reports. What a guy.
Said Beltran: "He ended up doing it, and I have to pay for it ... He doesn't have to pay $10,000 for his nose."
Niese has always been a favorite around these parts, and hopefully this will be the year that he puts it all together and has a big year.
At any rate, he will have an noticeable new look on the mound, and hopefully aesthetics aside, his new nose makes a positive impact on his conditioning throughout the season.
This is easily the offseason story to beat just hours into Mets camp. I imagine it may be the "best shape of his life" story to beat as well.