Senga regrets lengthy rehab: 'I just want to get back out there'

May 27th, 2024
Kodai Senga has not pitched this season due to a strained right posterior shoulder capsule.Lynne Sladky/AP

NEW YORK -- In the midst of another extended shutdown period without throwing, expressed regrets that his rehab from a strained posterior shoulder capsule has unfolded the way it has.

“I think that I understand my body well, and I think things could have gone better,” Senga said on Monday through an interpreter. “I’m not overly surprised at where I am currently. I think I could have fixed some things.”

Asked specifically what he meant by that statement, Senga replied: “I think the point is that in order to get back to 100 percent, you have to hit each benchmark. You have to be at 100 percent at each benchmark to get to the ultimate 100 percent. That’s what I mean by that.”

Although Senga’s comments came across as somewhat cryptic, manager Carlos Mendoza dismissed any idea that Senga and the team have not been on the same page about his rehab.

“I don’t think there’s been any disagreement,” Mendoza said. “We laid out a plan when he first went down in Spring Training. Everybody was on board. We listened to some of his suggestions. And then, obviously, when he started throwing again and started feeling good, then it was [mechanical issues] and then, obviously, the triceps [setback]. But there’s been disagreement? Not really. It’s just one of those that he’s a unique case.”

In recent weeks, Mendoza has referred often to Senga as an atypical rehab patient, while Senga has noted that he’s accustomed to the Japanese culture of allowing athletes to dictate their own rehab processes. The Mets, according to those involved in his rehab, have largely allowed Senga to do that.

But it has resulted in a far lengthier process than team officials initially anticipated. When Senga strained his shoulder capsule in February, the Mets estimated that he could return before the end of May. For a time, Senga seemed primed to reach that mark. But as he began ramping up his throwing program with mound work and live batting practice, Senga deliberately slowed his progress to work on his mechanics.

Shortly thereafter, he began experiencing triceps discomfort and nerve inflammation severe enough to warrant a cortisone injection. He received that shot last week and is still recovering from it, with plans to resume playing catch on Wednesday.

“When your muscles are not moving the way they’re supposed to, a lot of different things can get inflamed,” Senga said. “It happened to be the nerve this time.”

Given that it will take Senga weeks to prepare for Minor League rehab games and at least a month to stretch out fully as a starting pitcher, it now seems highly unlikely that he will return before the All-Star break. Any further delays could jeopardize not only his season, but also his ability to opt out of his contract after 2025. (Senga needs to reach 400 innings from 2023-25 to do so, and he’s still stuck at the 166 1/3 frames he pitched last season.)

“Look, I think we’ve got a pretty frustrated player here that he’s not able to contribute to the team,” Mendoza said. “We know how much he wants to be out there and helping the team -- and right now, he’s not capable of doing so.”

Added Senga: “It’s obviously not ideal. A lot of regretful feelings. But I just want to get back out there. I’m here at the stadium. I see all the guys fighting, and it really makes me want to have the urge to get back out there and pitch for the team.”