Jacob deGrom will miss opening day

JUPITER, Fla. — Even before the Mets discovered details about Jacob deGrom’s right shoulder stress reaction, which will cost him his opening day start and most likely the first two months of the season, a mood gloomy hung over the Port Saint Lucie clubhouse. There was an edge to the piece; everyone wanted to know what was wrong with deGrom.

When deGrom’s MRI results became public hours later, Mets officials alternated between expressing disappointment with the situation and confidence that they can continue successfully enough without him.

“Everyone has adversity,” said general manager Billy Eppler. “Everyone does it. Every team, all the time. So you take care of these things. Would we have liked to have Jake there on opening day? Yeah, absolutely. But we understand that’s what the teams are going through. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to manage and move on.

deGrom underwent an MRI Friday morning, a day after he alerted Mets coaches to a strain in the back of his right shoulder. This test showed a stress reaction in his shoulder blade, which caused inflammation in the area. deGrom will refrain from pitching for up to four weeks, after which the club will reassess their progress.

While the Mets noted in a statement that deGrom could theoretically start pitching before the four-week period expires, Eppler clarified that he would almost certainly be out for a full month. If all goes well and a follow-up MRI comes back clean, deGrom will likely still need another month to ramp up at this point. So, early June is a realistic best-case scenario for his return.

“He’s disappointed,” Eppler said. ” We are disappointed. Everyone shares the disappointment right now. No one is safe from this. »

In the short term, Max Scherzer is the obvious candidate to replace deGrom on opening day, although neither Eppler nor manager Buck Showalter is committing to this assignment. Scherzer has been struggling with a hamstring issue, a source confirmed, but is soft enough that he’s still scheduled to pitch seven innings in an intrasquad game on Saturday. As long as he comes out of this outing unscathed and is willing to forgo the extra rest day he would have received before his season debut, Scherzer should be fine for opening day. If the Mets choose to go another direction, they could manipulate their rotation to pitch any of their healthy starters.

As for deGrom’s rotation spot, Tylor Megill, David Peterson and Trevor Williams are the leading candidates to replace him. Of that group, Megill has impressed the most this spring, catching Showalter’s attention with his size, trick and spring results: 6 2/3 shutouts to date.

The Mets do not, according to Eppler, intend to acquire another starter from outside the organization.

“[deGrom] is really good at what he does, and we won’t have that for a while, but now there’s an opportunity for someone to come forward,” Showalter said.

No matter who the Mets trade for deGrom, they understand they can never quite replace a two-time Cy Young Award winner who has produced a 1.94 ERA in 91 starts since the start of the 2018 season. The problem for him was simply to stay healthy. Injuries are nothing new for deGrom, who missed the entire second half of last season due to inflammation in his right elbow and forearm, and endured scares in his back, elbow and shoulder for the past two years. He only pitched 27 times during those seasons.

According to Showalter, deGrom felt good in a routine catch-up game Thursday until his last two pitches. He also looked strong in his first two Grapefruit League starts, allowing one run in five innings with 10 strikeouts. deGrom had also made some concessions in the name of health, lifting slightly heavier weights this winter and reducing his speed by a few ticks in the spring. But the revamped training schedule hasn’t been able to keep deGrom on the pitch.

According to Dr. James Gladstone, chief of sports medicine at Mt. Sinai Health System, nothing is more important for stress reactions than rest.

“It’s more or less an overuse injury,” Gladstone said, describing it as a bruise along the bone where the muscle attaches to it. “I think a lot of times, especially in pitchers, it can be the mechanics. Something is wrong, and it causes a person to pitch a little differently than they have in the past.

Gladstone estimated that a full recovery could take up to six weeks. The Mets are hoping deGrom can heal sooner, but they won’t rush things.

“We’re going to do everything we can to support him in any way we can,” Eppler said. “Jake is a resilient person. Over time, things heal. And so that’s another situation where in a while, we’ll have healed him and we’ll bring him back up the hill.

In the meantime, the Mets will be fine — a process that began with their post after deGrom’s latest diagnosis.

“The sky is not falling,” Showalter warned as a group of reporters left his office. “It’s just raining.”