For Dellin Betances, from a pure baseball perspective, Opening Day’s four-month delay was “a blessing in disguise,” he said.
He was struggling to reach his usual high-90s velocity when baseball was shut down in March. But with all that extra time to finish rehabbing the left Achilles tendon he partially tore in September, he felt much better Sunday, when he faced Mets teammates Jed Lowrie, Melky Cabrera, Eduardo Nuñez and Matt Adams during live batting practice.
In seven at-bats, he gave up one hit, a single up the middle by Cabrera. But he said he didn’t know where his fastball velocity was.
“It’s better than spring training, I’ll tell you that,” said Betances, who maxed out in the low 90s during spring training.
Betances said he plans to get into six or seven additional simulated/exhibition games, which would make it “like a normal spring.” It helps, he said, that toward the end of baseball’s hiatus, he pitched to Yankees outfielders Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks and former Mets infielders Todd Frazier and Joe Panik while training in the tri-state area.
Among other details from the Mets’ pair of simulated games Sunday: Yoenis Cespedes (broken ankle, heel surgeries) singled off Jacob deGrom but did not run the bases. He played leftfield but did not see any action. DeGrom (two innings) allowed two hits and struck out three. Tyler Bashlor retired all five batters he faced and Jacob Rhame retired six of seven. Infield coach Gary DiSarcina played third base during parts of both sessions.
Marcus Stroman and Amed Rosario, who both missed the first two days of workouts, participated. Rosario wore a mask while on the field, a rare sight so far . . . Lowrie on all the health and safety protocols teams are dealing with as they prepare for the season: “If it felt normal, I think that would be strange. There’s a lot of good people putting in a lot of work to make sure it is the safest possible environment.” . . . Manager Luis Rojas declined to name a closer and mentioned the possibility of a committee.