Thor exits 2nd rehab start with sore elbow

May 26th, 2021

NEW YORK -- The Mets received a jolt of bad news Tuesday on rehabbing pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who left his start for Class A St. Lucie after one inning due to right elbow soreness. It’s the same elbow that Syndergaard underwent Tommy John surgery to repair last March.

Syndergaard made his rehab debut last week with a four-inning outing for St. Lucie, where he hit 97 mph on the radar gun. The Mets had scheduled him for another four-inning outing on Tuesday, followed by a progression that would have him continue to increase his innings count before joining the Mets in mid-June. But Syndergaard instead lasted merely one inning in his second start.

According to multiple people on site in Port St. Lucie, Fla., his velocity dipped from the mid-90s to mid-80s during the inning. But manager Luis Rojas downplayed the severity of Syndergaard’s setback late Tuesday evening, terming his issue “more like a discomfort” than “soreness.”

“No one’s overly concerned,” Rojas said. “It was more preventative than anything, taking him out after throwing one inning because of the discomfort he had. He just didn’t feel right.”

Syndergaard has not appeared in a big league game since 2019, when he finished 10-8 with a 4.28 ERA in 32 starts. Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a premature end to Spring Training in March 2020, the Mets announced that Syndergaard had torn the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and would require Tommy John surgery. He underwent the operation, which typically carries a recovery time of 12-18 months, in late March.

Since that time, Syndergaard has quietly rehabbed from surgery, offering only the briefest snippets of updates on his Instagram account. He has not spoken publicly about his surgery or its recovery, declining countless interview requests over the past 14 months. The only recent interview Syndergaard has granted was to GQ magazine about his book club and daily wellness routine.

Overall, Syndergaard is 47-30 with a 3.31 ERA over five seasons. He is making $9.7 million this year and can become a free agent in November.

Although the recovery from Tommy John surgery can be routine for many pitchers, a significant number do have issues coming back from the operation. Most notably in recent years, former Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler needed more than two years to return, struggling to find success until three-and-a-half years post-surgery.

“You expect there may be a speed bump in the road when you have a rehab assignment like this,” Rojas said of Syndergaard. “This is one of them.”

Worsening the situation is the fact that the Mets are currently without starters Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker and Jordan Yamamoto, who are all on the injured list. Walker (left side tightness) could return to the rotation soon, but Carrasco (torn right hamstring) is likely to miss another four to six weeks, or more. The Mets did get Jacob deGrom (right side tightness) back from the IL on Tuesday.