PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets reliever Seth Lugo will miss the start of the Grapefruit League season due to a fractured left pinkie toe, manager Luis Rojas said Tuesday. Lugo injured his toe banging into an object in his Port St. Lucie home on Monday night.
Returning to camp the following morning, Lugo alerted the training staff to his ailment. Mets medical staffers took X-rays, which revealed the fracture, then fitted Lugo with padding for his left spike. He played catch off flat ground away from his teammates.
“No major concern,” Rojas said. “It’s going to take like three days probably off throwing, and obviously, we’ll ramp him up from there.”
With more than five weeks left until Opening Day, Lugo should not have any trouble preparing so long as he does not reinjure the digit. One of the best relievers in baseball last season, Lugo posted a 2.70 ERA with 104 strikeouts in 80 innings. He's expected to be a prominent part of the Mets’ bullpen this season, pitching anywhere from the middle innings to the ninth -- often for more than three outs at a time.
The Mets’ initial plan was for Lugo to throw live batting practice on Wednesday, but he will instead shut down until at least the weekend. Still, Rojas said, “there’s no concern at all.”
A new fireman?
Robert Gsellman sees himself well-suited to a more modern bullpen role, pitching two to three innings at a time in relief.
Heading into the offseason, the Mets asked Gsellman to train for a starter’s workload, believing they might have him compete for a rotation job this spring. When they signed Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello to one-year deals, it forced Gsellman back to the bullpen. But he still could use his improved stamina to pitch in longer relief stints.
Ultimately, Gsellman said, he wants to start games as he did from 2016-17 in the Majors. Serving in a fireman role may be the next-best thing.
“I’d love to start,” Gsellman said. “That’s what I trained for since I came into pro ball, other than the last couple years. I just want to be part of this team and play my role and get that trophy. But I would love to start. Who wouldn’t?”
Also stretching out …
… is rookie Stephen Stephen Gonsalves, whom the Mets claimed off waivers this winter from the Twins. The victim of a 40-man roster crunch in Minnesota, Gonsalves immediately became the Mets’ 23rd-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He appeared in five games down the stretch out of the bullpen for the Twins, sitting at 93-95 mph after missing most of the year to a left elbow injury.
“That was probably the hardest that I’ve been in my career,” Gonsalves said. “That was the first time that I was consistently throwing hard.”
Mets officials have told Gonsalves he will receive opportunities to start spring exhibitions. So long as he remains a starter, Gonsalves could break camp in the Triple-A Syracuse rotation, providing depth in the event of injuries.
The most prolific Mets hitter early this spring has been Michael Conforto, who took both Wacha and Porcello deep in the first two days of live batting practice.
“He looks really good,” Rojas said. “I like where he is right now. His hands are in a good position. He’s in a good stance. … It’s a sweet swing. It’s something you fall in love with the first time you see it, and he still has that sweet swing.”
Yoenis Céspedes also impressed on Tuesday, banging a Porcello pitch off the left-field fence. He remained limited in full-squad workouts for the second straight day.