deGrom, Eovaldi get healthy dose of throwing sessions

Rangers right-handers happy to get back to work against mix of Royals hitters

March 14th, 2023

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- After a spring of health questions surrounding the Rangers’ pitching staff, good news came to Texas camp on Monday morning when and  -- both experiencing left side tightness -- faced Double-A and Triple-A hitters from Royals affiliates at the Surprise Recreation Complex. 

deGrom -- facing Triple-A Omaha -- gave up an inside-the-park homer off the batter’s eye in center field, but the right-hander  otherwise looked in perfect form. The ace logged two strikeouts and a flyout in his first inning of game action this spring. deGrom got four outs in his second inning -- one infield flyout and three strikeouts. In all, he faced eight batters, getting seven outs, with one hit and five strikeouts.

“I felt good,” deGrom said. “With the first couple batters, I didn't locate my fastball that well, but then started mixing it up and dialed it in a little bit. Everything felt great. … I threw all four pitches. I was happy with the changeup and curveball. I think they're going to be plus pitches this year, so I was able to mix them in quite a bit as well. The slider was better than in my live BP and that's normally a huge pitch for me as well. It comes down to locating the fastball, and in the second [inning] I was able to do that a little better.”

The 34-year-old deGrom came into camp with "a little tightness" in his left side, and the Rangers’ training staff decided to shut him down for a few days out of an abundance of caution. He threw a live batting practice session on March 8, prior to his first appearance in game action this week. He hasn’t made an appearance in Cactus League play yet, but he should do so before the end of camp.

On Monday, he threw 20 of his 24 pitches for strikes before doubling his pitch count in the bullpen afterwards. He sat in the upper-90s on his fastball, hitting 100 mph. deGrom said he believes he’ll be ready for Opening Day, but the team will continue to assess his health throughout camp.

“There might be some restrictions on the first start of the season, but considering what I had [with the side] and getting rid of that with how I feel now, I like where we're at,” deGrom said.

"I was able to get what I wanted today and was able to throw, like I said, all four pitches. I’m happy with how it turned out. Everything felt good. And I feel really good [health-wise], so that was the main goal.”

Eovaldi -- facing Double-A Northwest Arkansas -- tossed two innings, allowed two hits, but no walks, and two strikeouts. He threw 22 of his 29 pitches for strikes.

“That was fun,” Eovaldi said. “ I mean, it's definitely nice being back out there. I threw all my pitches and mixed everything in there. There were a couple times where I was 0-2 or 1-2 on guys and just didn't quite finish the pitches where I wanted to.

"But I felt like I had a good pitch mix and worked quickly out there. Feel good and healthy, that's the main thing.”

Unlike deGrom, Eovaldi had previously made his spring debut when he tossed two clean innings against the Royals on Feb. 25. He felt the left side tightness in the following days and was shut down on March 1, when the training staff decided to play it cautiously, similar to deGrom.

Eovaldi also expects to be ready for Opening Day after his short shutdown.

“It was my side, it wasn't my arm or anything like that,” Eovaldi said. “So in my mind, my arm’s great. It feels good. I was able to keep throwing during the whole time [out]. We had taken three days off and I'm used to taking days off and throwing. For me, it's nothing new.

“Again, I'm able to locate my pitches. There were a few where I would have liked for them to be a little lower in the zone, but at the same time we're facing Minor League guys. They're out there swinging at everything.

"They know we're gonna throw strikes. So it makes it a little challenging in that aspect of just having a good pitch mix.”