PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Even Jacob deGrom is impressed with how good he has looked in his first two spring training games.
DeGrom dominated the Orioles for five shutout innings Friday at First Data Field: one hit, no walks, eight strikeouts. He threw 55 pitches, plus about 10 more in the bullpen to simulate the start of a sixth inning.
“The main thing was trying to stay smooth out there and work on all my pitches,” he said. “I was actually able to throw them better than I thought I was going to be able to.”
DeGrom’s curveball — his No. 5 pitch — was a strength Friday. “He commented on that after to us, that that’s the best his curveball has felt,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “If he can add that pitch to his repertoire often, he can be pretty dangerous.”
The outing capped a week of considerable progress for deGrom, who had experienced lower-back stiffness earlier in spring training. The setback cost him what would have been the first Opening Day start of his career.
“Definitely disappointing,” he said. “I would have liked to start it. Hopefully there will be more.”
Vargas hurts glove hand
Lefthander Jason Vargas took a comebacker off his glove (right) hand in the fifth inning of his minor-league game Friday. X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day. Facing Nationals minor-leaguers, Vargas allowed one run, three hits and two walks in four innings. He struck out seven and threw 55 pitches.
Cespedes still hurting
Yoenis Cespedes had a brace on his sore right wrist when he left First Data Field Friday afternoon. He said he has not swung a bat or thrown a ball since receiving a cortisone shot Tuesday but hopes to play Monday.
“We’ll see,” Callaway said of whether Cespedes will start doing baseball activities in the next day or two. “At some point you’ll see him.”
Smith still waiting
First baseman Dominic Smith said he has been running but still is feeling his strained right quadriceps. He needs to feel no pain before he returns to game action. The injury requires Smith to show up early (by 7 a.m.) and stay late (beyond the end of the Mets’ game Thursday) for extra treatment. “It’s not fun for me,” Smith said.
Update on the No. 5 starter competition: Lefthander Steven Matz will start Monday against the Astros. Righthander Zack Wheeler next will pitch in a minor-league game or piggyback in relief of Matz, Callaway said.