Notes: deGrom plays catch, feels 'fine'

Carrasco working toward return; McKinney (right knee) scratched

June 12th, 2021

NEW YORK -- As a small group huddled around on Saturday afternoon, Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner emerged from the clubhouse to state the obvious.

“He’s throwing,” Hefner said. “That’s a good sign.”

It was indeed a positive development for deGrom, who exited Friday’s win over the Padres after only 80 pitches due to a flare-up of right flexor tendinitis. Afterward, deGrom insisted that the issue wasn't serious; to prove it, he played a light game of catch the following afternoon to test his arm.

“He came in today and he said that he was fine,” manager Luis Rojas said.

To be cautious, the Mets ordered an MRI on deGrom’s right arm, which came back “clean” and confirmed the diagnosis of tendinitis, per Rojas.

“It’s something that we want to take day by day,” Rojas said. “We’ll see the progression between starts and see that he can do everything, throw his side, and make his next start. That’s the expectation right now, but we still want to pay close attention to it.”

deGrom’s next outing is scheduled for Wednesday against the Cubs at Citi Field. Both he and Rojas have been consistent in saying they expect him to start that game.

Assuming he does, deGrom will carry a league-leading 0.56 ERA into the matchup -- the lowest by a pitcher through his first 10 starts in Major League history.

Carrasco clarifies hamstring concerns
Mets starter Carlos Carrasco said Saturday that he has experienced multiple setbacks in his rehab from a torn right hamstring. The initial tear occurred in March, during routine conditioning work. As he attempted to rehab his injury, Carrasco again felt a twinge in his leg while running sprints. Finally, as he prepared to begin a rehab assignment in early May, Carrasco experienced pain in his hamstring while pitching.

That prompted the Mets to back off his throwing program and have Carrasco work more diligently on strengthening his hamstring. He’s been doing so ever since, recently receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in his leg to stimulate healing.

“For this kind of injury, it’s taking time,” Carrasco said. “I almost was ready to come back and then it happened again. Since it happened the third time, I’m just taking it easy right now. I’ve been doing everything they’ve asked me to do, and I think we’re in a good spot right now.”

Carrasco has not pitched since the Mets acquired him and Francisco Lindor in a six-player trade with the Indians in January. Before 2019, Carrasco had been one of the game’s most durable starting pitchers, averaging 29 starts and 181 innings per season from 2015-18. But a battle with leukemia, a heart issue, the pandemic and now a torn hamstring have conspired to limit Carrasco to 148 innings over the past two years combined.

“Oh my God, I don’t know,” Carrasco said when asked when he might begin throwing bullpen sessions again. “That’s what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been doing everything I can, so I just follow those little steps the trainer wants me to do every day. I wish I can have a day that I can go out there and pitch. I’ve been waiting since March. But it’s getting there.”

Once Carrasco does climb atop a mound again, he will need to complete something approximating a full Spring Training progression, which should take about a month. The Mets are still hopeful Carrasco can contribute in July, though he will need to restart bullpen sessions soon for that to happen.

McKinney scratched
Less than a half hour before Saturday’s first pitch against the Padres, the Mets scratched outfielder Billy McKinney from their lineup due to a sore right knee. Mason Williams replaced McKinney in the lineup, playing center field, with Kevin Pillar sliding over to right.

McKinney had been one of the Mets’ hottest hitters, batting .302/.362/.744 in 13 games since they acquired him from the Brewers on May 26. Of McKinney’s 13 hits with his new club, 10 have gone for extra bases, including four home runs.

McKinney underwent an MRI on his knee, which came back negative, according to Rojas. The Mets plan to reassess him on Sunday morning but don't expect him to miss much time.

From the trainer’s room
Outfielder Michael Conforto and infielder Jeff McNeil, both of whom are nursing hamstring strains, participated in sprinting drills on Saturday afternoon. McNeil is due to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Syracuse on Sunday, with an eye toward returning next weekend. Conforto is about a week behind McNeil in his rehab.