deGrom K's 5 of 6 batters, hits 100 in 1st rehab start

July 4th, 2022

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- When news of the injury to ace Jacob deGrom came down in Spring Training, first-year New York Mets manager Buck Showalter speculated that having him out for a few months and coming back in July might be like trading for an All-Star pitcher.

“What’s the Trade Deadline nowadays?” Showalter mused a couple of days after the injury was discovered. “That’s a pretty good addition instead of a trade, Jacob deGrom.”

That addition -- a four-time All-Star -- took the first step toward getting back to Citi Field on Sunday night and making good on the skipper’s prediction.

In his first rehab start and first time out since March 27 (right shoulder/scapula stress reaction), deGrom was overwhelming from the outset, striking out five Jupiter Hammerheads in 1 2/3 innings for the Florida State League’s St. Lucie Mets at Clover Park.

“Even though it was my first rehab start, I had a lot of nerves and was excited to be back out there,” said deGrom, 34, who last started a regular-season game last July 7 when he beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-3, at home.

The DeLand, Fla., native trotted out to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” and showed the Single-A competition they were simply overmatched.

In dominating fashion, the right-hander hit 100 mph with his first three offerings -- he had six in the stint -- and struck out the side, using cutters on two whiffs. deGrom's lone mistake was hitting Jupiter’s Ian Lewis in the foot with a cutter in the dirt and seeing Lewis steal second base.

In the second inning, he fanned the Hammerheads’ Zach Zubia and Cristhian Rodriguez to complete his 24-pitch (18 strikes) outing.

“I felt like I had control of everything -- the main thing was trying to locate the fastball and pitch off that. Everything felt good,” said deGrom. “[My shoulder] feels 100 percent. Because it was bone ... you can’t really push it. I had to wait until the bone was healed and move forward from there.”

He expects to make at least one more start for St. Lucie.

deGrom’s second and final Spring Training start over three months ago was a piggyback effort with newcomer Max Scherzer. deGrom went three innings and Scherzer shut the door over the final six in a win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

However, deGrom then dealt with right shoulder tightness. An MRI revealed that deGrom was found to have a stress reaction in his right scapula, sidelining him indefinitely and rearranging the Mets’ starting rotation.

At 49-30, the Mets lead the hard-charging Atlanta Braves by 3 1/2 games in the National League East.

“No one wants to miss time, we all want to be out there competing,” deGrom said. “It’s really tough. You want to be up there and help your team.”