PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Upon arriving back at Mets camp Saturday, Jed Lowrie offered no assurances that he will be ready for the start of the regular season. Instead, Lowrie, whose MRI revealed a capsule sprain in his left knee, said he can only follow the recommendations of New York's doctors and training staff.
"There's no timetable right now," said Lowrie, 34. "I want to be out there with the guys on Opening Day, but we need to make sure this is right and it doesn't linger. ... It's beyond frustrating."
One of the Mets' key offseason acquisitions, Lowrie began feeling knee discomfort almost immediately upon engaging in baseball activities in Port St. Lucie. He said the issue is not something doctors detected when he took a physical upon signing his two-year, $20 million contract six weeks ago, but an MRI administered Thursday in New York revealed the sprain.
Still, Lowrie considers his diagnosis "good news," as there is no ligament or major structural damage in the knee. He plans to huddle with the Mets' training and physical therapy staffs this weekend to determine a course of action that should allow him to ramp back up to full strength. Whether that process will takes days or weeks, neither he nor the Mets are able to say.
"[We'll] treat it, build the strength and continue to progress accordingly," Lowrie said.
Jersey boy makes his pitch
For an eight-year big league veteran, the dawning moments of spring can be a slog. But not so this month for Hector Santiago, a Newark, N.J., native who has dreamed his whole life of playing for the Mets. For the first time Saturday, Santiago suited up in a Mets uniform, beginning his bid to make the roster.
"It's funny how it comes full circle," Santiago said. "Throughout my career, I always told my wife and family members I would like to, at some point in my career ... go back and play at home. I always rooted for the Mets to give me a call."
That call finally game in mid-December. Santiago's response? "I'm in." He and his agent banged out contract details, and the left-hander signed a few weeks later.
Now, Santiago must prove he's one of the Mets' best 12 or 13 pitchers. On his side is versatility; Santiago is capable of starting, closing and everything in between, filling all of those roles at various points last summer with the White Sox. In his spring debut Saturday, Santiago worked around two hit batters and a walk to pitch a scoreless third inning in the Mets' 4-3 victory over the Braves.
The Mets value him as starting-pitching depth, lacking a deep pool of it elsewhere on their roster. But if they don't carry Santiago in their Opening Day bullpen, they'll risk losing him; he has an out in his contract in March and another during the regular season. He plans to assess the situation over the next few weeks, before deciding whether to stick with the Mets and his lifelong dream.
"I think I've been around enough where I've seen other guys have to deal with the same situation," Santiago said. "It always comes down to what happens at the end. ... I'll come here and grind, and hope for a spot."
News and notes
• No. 8 prospect Anthony Kay impressed the Mets with a sharp pickoff move in the seventh inning, which he used to escape a runners-on-the-corners, no-outs jam. "Great pickoff move to get him," manager Mickey Callaway said. "Those kinds of things are big."
• The Mets have instructed their outfielders not to throw beyond the cutoff man for the first half of camp. Following that rule in the second inning, Juan Lagares came well short of nabbing a runner at home on a shallow sacrifice fly. The Mets won’t loosen those reins until mid-March.
• The spring opener at First Data Field was a sellout: 7,134 fans.
Jacob deGrom will pitch for the first time since winning the National League Cy Young Award when makes his spring debut Sunday against an Astros split squad. He'll start opposite right-hander Rogelio Armenteros in a 1:10 p.m. ET game at First Data Field.