Notes: deGrom eyeing weekend return

May 5th, 2021

Mets ace plans to receive a checkup on Thursday and potentially play catch, with an eye toward returning to the rotation as soon as this weekend against the D-backs at Citi Field.

deGrom was a late scratch from Tuesday’s rained-out game in St. Louis due to right lat inflammation, which he began experiencing after his last start against the Red Sox. Initially, deGrom considered it the typical type of soreness that he feels after every outing. But upon throwing the first of his two routine between-starts bullpen sessions, deGrom felt added discomfort. He alerted pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and Mets trainers, who advised him to give the soreness time to dissipate. When it didn’t, the Mets decided to scratch deGrom.

A subsequent MRI revealed nothing more than inflammation, which is located low enough in the muscle -- and far enough from the shoulder -- to be overly concerning. The Mets are hopeful deGrom can start this weekend that they did not place him on the injured list, which would have sidelined him until at least next Tuesday.

“This is something I didn’t want, don’t like,” deGrom said. “I want to take the ball every fifth day. I just wasn’t able to this time.”

In deGrom’s eyes, the injury was due to his inability to fix a mechanical issue in his last start against the Red Sox, which saw him “flying open” and “staying underneath” the ball throughout that outing. Typically, deGrom is more adept at making minute mechanical adjustments on the fly; it’s one of the most significant reasons why he has been able to increase his velocity in each of the past four seasons, posting a 1.99 ERA in 81 starts since 2018.

“My lat’s definitely been sore before, but when it’s not trending in the right direction leading up to the start, that’s when I thought I should say something,” deGrom said. “Normally, my lat gets sore when I pitch. That means I’m getting good extension. But from what this was, and looking at my mechanics and stuff … I decided to say something.”

If doctors clear deGrom to play catch and all goes well on Thursday, he will throw a bullpen session the following afternoon at Citi Field. That would line deGrom up to start Sunday against the D-backs. It’s a familiar routine for deGrom, who missed one start last year due to minor neck soreness, and a preseason outing because of a back issue. He went on the IL once in 2019 because of a sore right elbow and once in ’18 due to a hyperextension of that same joint. But none of those injuries proved significant.

On the whole, deGrom has been quite durable, in part because he’s been vocal about minor issues that have bothered him.

“I wanted to get it looked at just to be safe early in the season,” said deGrom, who leads the National League with a 0.51 ERA and 59 strikeouts. “Hopefully I’ll just miss one, where if I went out there and did something and actually hurt myself, I would have been out a lot longer.”

From the trainer’s room
Mets officials are leaning toward sending Carlos Carrasco (torn right hamstring) on a rehab assignment this weekend at Triple-A Syracuse, but they want to be sure the upstate New York weather will cooperate before committing to that course of action.

Carrasco stretched out to six innings in a simulated game earlier this week. He should require only one rehab start before finally making his Mets debut next week against the Rays.

Double the Fame
Former Mets first baseman and SNY broadcaster Keith Hernandez received a unique honor on Wednesday, when the Cardinals announced plans to induct him into their Hall of Fame. Hernandez has been in the Mets Hall of Fame since 1997, making him the rare player to be recognized in that way by two different clubs.

Although Hernandez grew up a Cardinals fan and won both an MVP and a World Series ring in St. Louis, he has since become at least as well-connected to Mets history.

“I enjoyed playing in both places,” Hernandez said. “I’m not going to say where my loyalties lie, but when you’re traded, you’ve got to go. You’ve got to play someplace else. Life doesn’t stop. When I was traded, it was very difficult. But it turned out all right for me.”

Of course, Hernandez remains a notable omission from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Winning them over
New hitting coach Hugh Quattlebaum said he does not expect any problems from Mets hitters, who were upset about the team’s recent dismissal of Chili Davis and his assistant, Tom Slater. On an introductory media call, Quattlebaum indicated that players remain frustrated with the club’s decision, but cognizant that he is not the reason behind their anger.

“I think guys have been able to compartmentalize that a little bit,” Quattlebaum said. “It’s very normal and human that they have that empathy, and some frustration with losing guys that they really cared about, that they were in the foxhole with. They’ve all gone out of the way to say that any frustrations they have, have nothing to do with me. They want to give me a fair shot.”

Minor League report
Top prospect
Francisco Álvarez highlighted the Mets’ first day of Minor League games since 2019, going 4-for-5 and reaching base five times on Tuesday for Low-A St. Lucie. It was Álvarez’s first career game in full-season ball.

Last year’s first-round Draft pick Pete Crow-Armstrong also shined for St. Lucie on Opening Day with two hits and two RBIs. He then walked four times in his second game, reaching base in seven of his first 11 professional plate appearances.