Jonathon Niese has a new nose, thanks to former teammate Carlos Beltran

Big League Stew

It looks like Mets reporters have already sniffed out the spring's oddest story.

It's true. New York Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese arrived at the team's camp on Monday and said that he had received a nose job over the offseason. Better yet, the bill for the surgery is supposed to be picked up by former teammate Carlos Beltran, who promised to handle the tab before he was traded to the San Francisco Giants last July.  

"[Beltran] wanted me to have a new nose," Niese [told reporters on Monday]. "So he offered to pay for it. I was just like, 'All right.' Then it turned into seeing doctors and to getting it fixed."

Beltran reportedly has not paid up on his promise, but he can handle the bill. He signed a new two-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals in the offseason and will make about $13 million in 2012. Niese, meanwhile, is a 25-year-old pitcher who made $452,000 in 2011 and is still one year away from arbitration. Though that's still a nice annual salary, it'd be a pretty crummy prank for Beltran to pull if Niese took his pledge seriously.

"If he pays, he pays," Niese told the New York Times.

As someone blessed with a beautiful beak himself, I'd normally tell Niese that having a powerful proboscis lends character. I'd also usually recommend he listen to a little more Christina Aguilera if the boys in the clubhouse are getting him down.

[Jeff Passan: Fred Wilpon turns Mets into pro sports' biggest disaster]

But because he's a professional athlete, the rhinoplasty actually made sense. Niese says his nasal passages were getting in the way of his conditioning and that he can now breathe easier with his new slimmed-down schnoz.

"It's helped a lot with my running, it helps with my working out," Niese said. "As far as the mound, I'm not sure."

As my man C. Trent Rosecrans noted for Eye on Baseball, athletes often buy each other gifts with their riches. Steak dinners, watches and even cars. (My favorite story: Brian McRae once leased a Mercedes-Benz  convertible for pitcher Frank Castillo after the pitcher hit a home run during batting practice at Wrigley Field.)

But plastic surgery for a teammate? Well, that would be a first for this here Fashion Ump.

It also might not be the last if a certain member of the Cardinals hears of Beltran's charity.

Whaddya say, Fredbird?

Spring training is here, so don't miss a beat ...
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