Mets taking things slow with Senga's recovery timeline

Righty under orders not to throw for three weeks after PRP injection

February 25th, 2024

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets have developed at least a rough idea about ’s timeline.

Senga flew to New York late last week to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right shoulder, which doctors hope will promote healing of his strained posterior capsule. He is under orders not to throw for three weeks.

If Senga heals as expected and begins a standard six-week Spring Training progression once his shutdown ends, he could plausibly return to the Mets in the final few days of April. But the team will take things slow with Senga and defer to his feedback, which could easily push his recovery into May.

“You never know,” manager Carlos Mendoza said. “You’ve got to wait until -- first of all, let the shot do the work, and then once he starts ramping up his throwing program, we’ll have a better idea is he bouncing back and all that. But for now, we’ve just got to let him heal.”

“I’m not a doctor,” Senga added through an interpreter. “It might be sooner. It might be later. We’ll have to see what it feels like then. We’ll be checking up on it periodically, and we’ll see what happens.”

Senga was diagnosed last Thursday with a capsule strain in his shoulder, which isn’t causing him acute pain but has affected his ability to bounce back between outings. An MRI taken in Florida revealed the issue, and Senga subsequently traveled to New York for treatment. He returned to Mets camp in Port St. Lucie on Sunday.

“We’ve got to be careful, but we’ll be flexible, as well,” Mendoza said. “Senga knows his body well. He knows he’s going to be pretty honest, and this is the conversation I’m having with him -- making sure he voices his opinion, so we will have to adjust as we get going with his throwing program.”

Of note, Senga’s five-year, $75 million contract includes an opt-out clause if he throws 400 innings over the first three years of his Major League career. After pitching 166 1/3 innings as a rookie, Senga must average around 117 innings per season in 2024 and ’25 to trigger the clause and become a free agent. That should still be reachable if Senga returns in short order, but significant setbacks could change the equation.

“[I’m] using this time to my benefit and working on things I need to work on and making sure I can get out there as quick as possible,” Senga said. “And once I am out there, I can dominate and help the team win.”

With Senga sidelined, Tylor Megill, Joey Lucchesi, José Butto and Max Kranick are competing to replace him in New York’s rotation. After Megill pitched two innings of one-run ball in Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener, Butto added two scoreless innings of his own Sunday in a 3-1 win over the Astros. Lucchesi threw a live batting practice session earlier in the afternoon, while Kranick is scheduled to start Monday against the Nationals.

Venezuelan pride
For Mendoza, a special moment unfolded just before the start of Sunday’s Grapefruit League game: he exchanged lineup cards with fellow Venezuelan Omar López, the Astros' first base coach, who was managing the road half of Houston’s split squad with regular manager Joe Espada home in West Palm Beach. According to Venezuelan reporter Daniel Álvarez-Montes, that marked the first instance of a Spring Training game featuring two Venezuelan managers.

“It was pretty cool, especially with the relationship I have with Omar,” Mendoza said, citing their work together on Team Venezuela’s coaching staff in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, as well as their years managing against each other in winter ball. “I know him pretty well. And the fact that two Venezuelans, even though it’s a Spring Training game, it means a lot to all of us."

Mendoza is only the second full-time Venezuelan manager in Major League history, after Ozzie Guillen.

In addition, Sunday’s game featured an all-Venezuelan battery for the Mets, with Butto and catcher Francisco Alvarez. The latter hit an opposite-field, two-run homer to commemorate the occasion.

“I feel very proud, because we have Carlos on our team and the other team, López,” Alvarez said. “I feel very good in that moment because we are all Venezuelan, and we have fun over there.”

Short at short
Hudson Valley native Zack Short opened Sunday’s game with a slick play at shortstop, ranging to his right to backhand a Kenedy Corona grounder and firing a 79-mph strike across the diamond to retire the speedy leadoff hitter.

Short, who is vying for a bench job on the Opening Day roster, is capable of playing second base, third base and even the outfield, in addition to his natural (and aptly named) position of shortstop.

“I like him everywhere,” Mendoza said. “He’s a plus defender. … You can see it. The first play of the game, and he made that play look easy.”

Giving back
Francisco Lindor hosted a clinic Sunday for 50 children from two area Little Leagues, as well as a local Boys and Girls Club. The goal was to teach the kids baseball fundamentals while inspiring them to have fun and exemplify sportsmanship.