PORT ST. LUCIE — Max Scherzer’s troublesome right hamstring scratched him in a late start to spring training on Saturday, leaving more questions about the rotation as the Mets prepare to break camp.
A day after Jacob deGrom was diagnosed with a stress reaction on his right shoulder blade that will keep him on the injured list for a long time to start the season, 37-year-old Scherzer’s hamstrings have become a focal point .
The right-hander said he felt a strain in his muscles while running Thursday, but still expected to pitch in a minor league game two days later. But after slacking off for his looks, his hamstrings tightened up and he didn’t want to risk further injury.
Scherzer is the obvious choice to replace deGrom as the opening day starter in Washington on Thursday, but says it’s “too early” to say if that remains an option.
“That’s where you have the conversations with the people above you,” Scherzer said. “I’ve made up to 90 throws and my arm feels great. I definitely have this work for me. What you want to do going forward, how you want to progress, it’s all dictated by how the feel of the hamstrings I’m not worried long term, but it’s something you have to deal with right now.
Manager Buck Showalter hasn’t ruled out the possibility of Scherzer for the opener, even without another start to spring training.
“I think he’s already racked up more volume than most people right now,” Showalter said. “I don’t think there is that need.”
Chris Bassitt will stay on schedule and pitch in Sunday’s exhibition game, according to Showalter, which means the earliest he could pitch on full rest in the regular season is Friday.
Showalter said his goal is to avoid putting his entire rotation in “disarray” just to get a spot, which is Thursday. The start of opening day was originally scheduled for deGrom, with Scherzer scheduled for Friday.
Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker are behind Bassitt in the rotation. The Mets are still considering candidates — primarily Tylor Megill, David Peterson and Trevor Williams — to fill deGrom’s rotational position.
Scherzer, who arrived in the offseason on a three-year contract worth $130 million, indicated he was not concerned about his hamstrings, based on his history with such wounds.
“I’ve had these little hamstring injuries before and they go away within days,” Scherzer said. “I’m lucky I was good enough not to have a serious hamstring injury, I just had a little hiccup and I think it’s the same thing.
“I think it’s a little hiccup. I just have to fix it so I’m working with the coaching staff to identify what’s causing it because it’s frustrating, because I’ve worked really hard this offseason to really lifting my heavy legs, doing the whole run I feel like I’m in a really good place with my body and my arm, and it’s frustrating to have my arm at this point and have a little hiccup in my leg.
Scherzer said it was “difficult news” to hear that deGrom would be out for an extended period. DeGrom was barred from pitching for up to four weeks and will then have to rebuild.
“Just talking to him, he thought it was something minor,” Scherzer said, referring to the initial tightness of deGrom’s shoulders. “It turns out to be a little more than minor. For him to be closed for a few weeks now, you have to adjust that, so for him, trying to understand that injury. Find out exactly what it is and attack it with everything you have.