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deGrom's chances of OD start decrease

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets plan to give Jacob deGrom four full days of rest following his 30-pitch simulated game on Tuesday, decreasing the already slim chance that he will start on Opening Day.

Throwing on a back field in front of Mets owner Fred Wilpon, pitching coach Dave Eiland and others, deGrom threw two 15-pitch "innings" to a lineup of Dominic Smith, Juan Lagares and Tim Tebow, with a short break in between. According to Eiland, deGrom "wasn't holding anything back," at one point striking out Smith on a curveball that he buried in the dirt.

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets plan to give Jacob deGrom four full days of rest following his 30-pitch simulated game on Tuesday, decreasing the already slim chance that he will start on Opening Day.

Throwing on a back field in front of Mets owner Fred Wilpon, pitching coach Dave Eiland and others, deGrom threw two 15-pitch "innings" to a lineup of Dominic Smith, Juan Lagares and Tim Tebow, with a short break in between. According to Eiland, deGrom "wasn't holding anything back," at one point striking out Smith on a curveball that he buried in the dirt.

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"I was very pleased, very encouraged by what he did today," Eiland said. "It's all systems go as of right now."

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That does not, however, mean the Mets will bring deGrom back on one or two days' rest to start a Grapefruit League game, which would be necessary for him to pitch four more times (with full rest between each start) in advance of March 29. Instead, deGrom will make his Grapefruit League debut no earlier than Saturday, taking Opening Day out of the equation, barring a change of plans.

"We're going to use common sense here," Eiland said. "Opening Day is an honor and he deserves that start. He understands he deserves it. He earned it. But the smart thing is to make sure he can give us 30-plus starts. That's more important than him making that Opening Day start."

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Saying everything felt normal following his start, deGrom agreed.

"I had that little hiccup, and it was more precautionary than anything," deGrom said, referring to the bout of back stiffness that delayed his schedule several days. "I just wanted to be safe. Once I start, I want to be able to make all of them. We didn't want to do anything dumb where it cost me more time than it needed."

If deGrom is unavailable for Opening Day, Noah Syndergaard would become the overwhelming favorite to make that start.

Injury update
The Mets initially hoped that Amed Rosario would return to the lineup on Tuesday, three days after irritation in his left knee forced him from a game. But the soreness returned when Rosario attempted to take part in warmups on Monday, prompting him to make an appointment with team doctors the following morning. He underwent an MRI later on Tuesday that came back "totally clean," according to manager Mickey Callaway.

Callaway said that Rosario's hamstring and groin area is the problem, contrasting Rosario's earlier statements about his knee.

"I feel a little bit of something on my leg, my left leg," Rosario said through an interpreter. "So I'm working day to day to get ready to be on the field."

Rosario, who defined his injury as "tightness," indicated that he could return to the lineup this week despite the setback. The team's starting shortstop, Rosario has logged just 12 at-bats this spring.

"It's a little bit difficult for me. It's a little bit hard because I was getting on rhythm, getting on pace," Rosario said. "Now, starting from zero, starting from scratch is very hard."

Free swinging
For months, Michael Conforto looked forward to the day he could take batting practice for the first time since undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery last September. It finally arrived on Tuesday, when he added 15 BP swings to his previously established routine of tee swings and soft tosses.

"I'm swinging pretty hard and pretty freely," Conforto said. "I don't think about the shoulder."

Targeting a May 1 return, Conforto said he hasn't felt soreness or stiffness in his left shoulder following any of his cage sessions. The Mets have given him scheduled days off in an effort to combat that, but so far he has progressed without issue. Defense has also not been an issue for Conforto, who throws with his right arm.

Camp battles
Infielder Phillip Evans won't make the Opening Day roster, but he's positioned himself nicely as organizational depth with a .308 average and two home runs in eight spring games. Those numbers include the walk-off grand slam he hit on Tuesday off Astros reliever Rogelio Armenteros.

Video: HOU@NYM: Evans walks it off with grand slam to left

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

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