PORT ST. LUCIE — A frustrated Jacob deGrom is trying to make the best of his latest injury.
In his first public comments since he was diagnosed two days earlier with a stress reaction on his right scapula, the Mets ace on Sunday said he’s relieved knowing he’s dealing with a bone issue that should heal completely with rest.
“Structurally everything looks fine, so once the bone heals then we’ll be ready to go and build up from there and hopefully be healthy for the rest of the year,” deGrom said at Clover Park.
But the right-hander has been shut down from throwing for up to four weeks and will then need time to build up before he can rejoin the Mets rotation, a process that could take him to late May or beyond.
DeGrom indicated he was blindsided by the injury, which first came to his attention while playing catch on Thursday. An MRI exam the following day found the stress reaction.
To that point, deGrom had pitched five innings over two appearances in the Grapefruit League and struck out 10 batters, throwing his fastball in the 97-99 mph range.
It came after deGrom missed the second half of last season with forearm and elbow discomfort.
“I am really frustrated,” deGrom said. “I came into camp feeling really good, I felt like my elbow and shoulder were in a good spot and then to hear a stress reaction in the bone was definitely something I was not expecting, so the level of frustration is really high right now. ”
Manager Buck Showalter still hasn’t officially named deGrom’s replacement in the rotation (Tylor Megill, David Peterson and Trevor Williams are the top candidates) as he navigates another short-term issue: Max Scherzer’s sore right hamstring.
DeGrom was scheduled to pitch Thursday’s opener in Washington. The Mets will know more about Scherzer after he throws a side session Tuesday.
In 15 starts last season, deGrom pitched to a 1.08 ERA.
“You want to see him on the field for 35 starts,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “You want to see him. He’s one of the greatest. I want to be part of watching this unfold. But we wish him nothing but the best and speedy recovery and we have got a job to do.”
Lindor pointed out that a healthy deGrom alone doesn’t guarantee success.
“Even if [deGrom] was on the team, how many games has Jacob lost because we didn’t do our job?” Lindor said. “Teams can still beat us 1-0. It sucks to watch him on the sideline. I want to see him every five days.
“The sky is not falling. We have got to focus on what we have. We have 26 other guys that are trying to do the job. It’s part of the grind. It’s part of adversity. We are athletes. We are going to get hurt.”
DeGrom said he wishes he could pinpoint what might have caused his latest injury.
“That is something I am trying to figure out, because I felt like I put myself in a good spot this offseason to be ready to make 30-plus starts,” he said. “I would be guessing if I said exactly what happened. I tossed around a short ramp up, not pitching competitively in [8 ½] months, but that would be a guess if I said exactly what happened.”
One thing hasn’t changed. Upon arriving at spring training deGrom said he planned to exercise the opt-out in his contract after this season. The right-hander signed a five-year contract worth $137.5 million before the 2019 season that included an opt-out after the fourth year. Asked on Sunday if he still planned to opt out, deGrom answered in the affirmative.