September 27, 2022

Jacob deGrom takes big step toward return as Met ace starts to throw off flat ground

Jacob DeGrom has started throwing off flat ground. (Corey Sipkin/AP)

WASHINGTON – Jacob deGrom cannot return to the Mets rotation before June 6, but he’s progressing adequately in the meantime.

The Mets transferred deGrom to the 60-day injured list on Tuesday, which in no way impacts his timeline to rejoin the team as he continues rehabbing from a stress reaction on the scapula in his right shoulder.

Encouragingly, though, the Mets ace recently started throwing off flat ground.

DeGrom is throwing from 60 feet at “light intensity,” per Mets GM Billy Eppler. His follow-up MRI – which will be his third round of imaging since April 1 – is scheduled in approximately one week. If that MRI shows more healing, and deGrom continues telling the Mets that he feels good, that will indicate to the medical staff and team officials that the right-hander is ready to increase his workload.

“Just taking this marker to marker,” said Eppler.

DeGrom received the green light to begin “strengthening and loading” his shoulder on April 26, after his second MRI of the month showed “significant healing,” according to the Mets. When pitching coach Jeremy Hefner was asked what exactly strengthening and loading means for deGrom, Hefner said he’s essentially building back the strength in his shoulder with low-intensity exercises.

“Loading and unloading is, you’re mimicking a throwing motion,” Hefner told the Daily News. “When you throw, you load your arm and you unload your arm with the throwing motion.”

Due to deGrom’s injury, a stress reaction on the back of his shoulder, he couldn’t externally rotate his arm for the three and a half weeks he was completely shut down – from April 1 to April 26. The loading aspect just means deGrom is strengthening his shoulder muscles back up after being shut down for almost a month.

DeGrom is also progressing through his rehab with isometric holds, Hefner said, where a trainer will hold his hand and deGrom will try to move his arm back and hold it there. Think: intense yoga for rotator cuffs and the shoulder to activate those muscles. Hefner said he checks in with deGrom about once a week to catch up with how he’s feeling.

The two-time Cy Young winner has not pitched in a major-league game since July 7, 2021. Especially if the Mets, a rolling team that entered Tuesday with the biggest divisional lead (six games) in MLB, keep winning, the club will be cautious with deGrom’s ramp-up. There is no need to rush the ace back to the rotation while his replacement, Tylor Megill, pitches like, well, deGrom.

METS ACQUIRE SOUTHPAW

DeGrom’s transfer to the 60-day IL allowed the Mets to pick up a southpaw who could potentially help out their thin bullpen.

The Mets claimed left-hander Locke St. John off waivers from the Cubs on Tuesday, the team announced.

St. John, 29, appeared in one game with the Cubs this season before he was designated for assignment on May 3. He’s a former 13th-overall pick in the 2017 first-year player draft and appeared in seven games with the Texas Rangers in 2019 – posting a 5.40 ERA (four earned runs, 6.2 innings).

The Amazin’s have left-handers Chasen Shreve (11.2 IP, 1.54 ERA) and Joely Rodriguez (9.2 IP, 4.66 ERA) in Buck Showalter’s circle of trusted relievers, but St. John represents depth in the event the team’s bullpen situation gets bit by the injury bug.

SEASON-ENDING TOMMY JOHN

Sean Reid-Foley will undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, Eppler announced. The right-hander was diagnosed with a partial tear in his UCL at the beginning of this month and was weighing his options, whether it would be better to proceed with rehab or undergo season-ending surgery. As it turns out, he chose the latter.

Reid-Foley, 26-years old and born in Agana Heights, Guam, produced a 5.70 ERA over 10 innings and seven relief appearances for the Mets this season.