Notes: deGrom ready for start vs. Cubs

June 15th, 2021

NEW YORK -- has passed every test. An MRI on his right arm came back clean. deGrom played catch multiple times and went through his usual bullpen session routine between starts. No issues. All that’s left is for deGrom to return to the mound on Wednesday against the Cubs, as he looks to resume his historic season.

“He’s done everything he needs to be ready,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said.

deGrom, who received an MRI last weekend after leaving last Friday’s game early due to right flexor tendinitis, flashed a thumbs-up sign following one of his between-starts bullpen sessions this week. The Mets are confident he will show no ill effects when he returns to the mound, although they are likely to limit his workload as they have throughout the young season. The Mets’ aim is to remain careful with deGrom following the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, with an eye toward unleashing him more fully later in the summer.

A series of minor injuries early this year -- right lat tightness, right side tightness, a sore lower back -- have given the Mets some easy excuses to cut down deGrom’s workload. He entered Tuesday’s play tied for 68th in the Majors in innings.

“We talk about how easy he throws the ball,” Rojas said. “But it’s still an effort. He creates a lot of torque, and there’s a lot of energy used throughout the outing -- going six, seven, eight innings, and he even went nine early in the season. We figure some of the things [that] can come out of that -- some of the tightness, anything that’s come his way already is because of the force that he creates.

“We’re very aware. That’s why sometimes, I get asked here about his pitch count. I [say] that we’re just going to watch the game, see the up-downs, the stress level, and communicate as a group just to keep Jake throughout the season. But the good thing right now is that nothing major happened even though he exited his last outing.”

When deGrom takes the mound, he will do so with a 0.56 ERA, the lowest by any player through his first 10 starts of a season.

Sticky situation
The Mets planned to hold a pregame meeting on Tuesday to discuss Major League Baseball’s new “sticky stuff” memo designed to crack down on the use of foreign substances by pitchers. Earlier in the day, Rojas and the league’s 29 other managers met virtually with MLB vice president of on-field operations Michael Hill and consultant Theo Epstein to go over the rules.

Rojas intended to relay that message to his pitchers before Monday, when the enhanced enforcement will go into effect. Although he does not expect the rules to affect Mets pitchers, Rojas wants them to be aware of the consequences -- potential ejections and 10-game suspensions -- for violating them.

“I’m unaware of anyone here using anything,” Rojas said. “I just want to relay the fact that MLB releases the memo, maybe the [Players Association] released it and gave it to the guys as well to read it. I don’t know if they read it, but we do have to talk about this because there are some penalties. … It’s best to communicate with the guys and talk as a team, just so the guys get the clarity of the message that MLB is trying to communicate throughout baseball.”

Who’s on third?
Backup catcher , who subbed in at third base earlier this week for the first time in his career, said he regularly played the position as a high schooler in Florida. The key? “Soft hands,” said Nido.

Nido became the second Mets player to appear at a position in 2021 for the first time in his professional career at any level. James McCann was the first, moving from catcher to first base for a few games in recent weeks.

From the trainer’s room
Second baseman was due to continue his Minor League rehab assignment on Tuesday for Triple-A Syracuse, following one game at High-A Brooklyn. McNeil, who is rehabbing from a strained left hamstring, is scheduled to return to the Mets this weekend. Going to Syracuse now allows him to avoid a mandatory quarantine before arriving in Washington to rejoin the Mets.

Rojas indicated that before McNeil’s rehab is through, the Mets may start him at least once in left field -- his primary position last season. But that will simply be to keep McNeil sharp; once he returns to the Mets, McNeil will serve as their everyday second baseman.