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Jacob deGrom plays catch, may not need MRI after all

DeGrom still will be seen by doctors on Monday, manager Mickey Callaway said before Saturday's game against the Cardinals, but the pitcher feels good enough that they might not bother with the MRI.

Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom delivers a pitch

Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom delivers a pitch against the Twins at Citi Field on April 9. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

ST. LOUIS — Preaching caution but stressing their low degree of concern, the Mets allowed Jacob deGrom to play catch Saturday, one day after putting him on the injured list with a sore right elbow and two days before he visits with team doctors.

DeGrom said he “felt completely normal” and blamed the soreness he felt Thursday, which caused the Mets to scratch him from his start this weekend against the Cardinals, on his recent strep throat.

Manager Mickey Callaway said that deGrom feels so good that the Mets might not bother with his previously scheduled MRI on Monday. Dr. David Altchek, the Mets’ medical director who spoke by phone with deGrom after he was sore, will make the MRI decision.

DeGrom said he plans to pitch Friday at Citi Field against the Brewers, the first day he is eligible to come off the IL.

“I thought the whole time that I was going to be fine,” deGrom said Saturday morning after throwing out to about 120 feet. “I wasn’t really that concerned. It was just soreness. It was sore in there. It wasn’t really pain. My whole body was hurting. I had a fever for a few days, then had come down with strep throat. I was just having a hard time getting rid of that.

“I honestly think it goes back to the week that I’ve been sick — not throwing, not running, not lifting, not doing anything. I think my body was just run down. I wasn’t eating a whole lot, wasn’t able to get a whole lot of fluids in me. Now we’re just trying to rebuild.”

DeGrom’s attempt to assuage concerns was the latest development in a doozy of a couple of days for this sudden saga.

After deGrom was sore Thursday, Callaway said Friday afternoon that the ace was headed back to New York for an MRI. That plan quickly changed, with deGrom ending up staying with the team through the weekend and waiting till Monday to see doctors in New York. The Mets put him on the IL, retroactive to Tuesday, before their game Friday.

Why wait until Monday to get checked out?

“Because of how much he improved,” said Callaway, who added with a laugh: “And then it’s Easter. [Doctors are] not scheduled to work. They’re not like us. They get Easter weekend off.”

As of Friday night, the Mets said a deGrom MRI was still the plan. Saturday morning, as deGrom threw, Callaway said that was no longer necessarily the case.

“The doctors are gonna evaluate him and see,” Callaway said.

Why not get an MRI just to be safe? DeGrom said he was confident nothing is wrong, citing his most recent MRI in late March when he signed his contract extension.

“Honestly, that’ll be up to Dr. Altchek,” deGrom said. “I got an MRI whenever I signed the deal and everything was perfectly fine. So I don’t think anything happened in those four starts. I would have felt something on a pitch. I don’t think anything happened. I think it just goes back to being run down and not feeling well and going out there and trying to pitch.

“I’ve had Tommy John before [in 2010] and done those tests and everything feels fine with that. Not really worried about the spot [the elbow is] in. It was just more being smart and not trying to go out there and do too much too early and risk a more serious injury.”

And then there was the matter of deGrom throwing Saturday. Callaway said that spoke to the genuine lack of concern on the Mets’ part. DeGrom said he wanted to start to get back into a normal routine, the absence of which — since he’s been sick — was the source of the soreness to begin with, he believes.

“I talk about it all the time, how much I throw and prepare between starts,” said deGrom, who usually throws two bullpen sessions between starts. “It goes back to the throwing thing for me. I feel better when I throw. We had that discussion, ‘Hey, should we just wait till we see the doctor?’ I said, ‘Well it’s not feeling bad, so why go two more, almost three more days without throwing?’”

THROWING PAINS

Visits to what is now called the Injured List by key members of the Mets’ rotation since the start of the 2013 season:

JACOB DEGROM

Aug. 12, 2014 - Right rotator cuff, 15 days

May 6, 2018 - Right elbow, 10 days

April 19, 2019 - Right elbow, TBD

ROBERT GSELLMAN

June 28, 2017 - Strained left hamstring

MATT HARVEY

Aug. 27, 2013 - Tommy John surgery, season-ending

March 31, 2014 - Right elbow, 60 days

July 7, 2016 - Right shoulder, 60 days

June 16, 2017 - Right shoulder, 10 days

STEVEN MATZ

July 11, 2015 - Left lat, 15 days

Aug. 22, 2016 - Left shoulder, season-ending

April 2, 2017 - Left elbow, 10 days

Aug. 22, 2017 - Left elbow, season

Aug. 3, 2018 - Left arm, 10 days

JON NIESE

June 21, 2013 - Left rotator cuff, 15 days

March 30, 2014 - Left elbow, 15 days

July 6, 2014 - Left shoulder, 15 days

Aug. 24, 2014 - Left knee, season-ending

NOAH SYNDERGAARD

May 1, 2017 - Right biceps, 60 days

May 29, 2018 - Right index finger strain, 10 days

July 23, 2018 - Viral infection, 10 days

JASON VARGAS

March 29, 2018 - Right hand, 10 days

June 24, 2018 - Strained right calf, 10 days

ZACK WHEELER

April 6, 2015 - Right elbow, 60 days

April 1, 2016 - Tommy John recovery, 60 days

June 21, 2017 - Right biceps, 10 days

July 24, 2017 - Right arm, 60 days

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