PITTSBURGH — Jacob deGrom is hurt again — and this time, he said, is different.
Because the Mets’ ace still is dealing with tightness in his right forearm a week after he first felt it, the Mets put him on the 10-day injured list Sunday. Manager Luis Rojas said deGrom will not throw until his arm feels totally normal.
Rojas’ level of concern is "obviously high," he said.
"Yeah, I’m frustrated. I don’t know what else to say," said deGrom, who leads the majors with a 1.08 ERA. "I guess it’s always good news whenever, structurally, everything looks good. But you go out there and try to throw a baseball and my forearm just doesn’t feel good. The level of frustration right now is very high."
The IL move is retroactive to July 15, so deGrom will be eligible to return Sunday. But neither deGrom nor the Mets are sure if he will be ready by then. He hasn’t pitched in a game since July 7, so a rehabilitation assignment might be necessary.
This is deGrom’s fifth injury of the season. He said all of the previous issues — right lat inflammation, right side tightness, right flexor tendinitis, right shoulder soreness — were triggered by swings and that the forearm tightness is unrelated to hitting.
The unknown origin of the injury, along with an MRI on Friday that revealed no structural damage, has left deGrom with lots of unanswered questions about what is wrong.
"The other day, I felt it from literally lobbing a baseball and then never really seemed to get any better," he said. "Just continued to stay tight even when I got on the mound. I guess the positive thing is, structurally, my elbow looks good. But the frustration part is, why? What is it? What did I do to cause it?"
"[The injuries] are not related," Rojas said, "so right now the main focus is isolating this one because it had nothing to do with anything else that happened before in the season, even though it’s been five different things."
The Mets haven’t decided how to replace deGrom, Rojas said. Jerad Eickhoff will start Monday against the Reds in Cincinnati. They have not named a starting pitcher for Tuesday. Marcus Stroman is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Mets also had no countermove Sunday, so they played the Pirates on Sunday with 25 players on the 26-man roster.
This round of deGrom’s discomfort initially presented itself July 11, the last day before the All-Star break, a game the Mets briefly considered having deGrom pitch. Instead, he threw a bullpen session and "didn’t really feel great but didn’t think too much of it," he said, noting that he mentioned it to pitching coach Jeremy Hefner.
When he played catch during the All-Star break and still "just didn’t feel right," he kept Hefner updated.
"I called him and said, ‘Hey, I’m pretty sore, I don’t know what’s going on or whatever. I think I’ll be fine,’ " deGrom said.
He showed up to Pittsburgh on Friday planning to pitch Sunday but cut short his bullpen session Friday when he felt pain again. That is when Rojas was told and deGrom got the MRI.
"Once I started [the bullpen], I was like, ‘It’s not [right],’ " deGrom said.
It is normal for pitchers, especially starters, to feel sore after pitching. Those aches usually become public knowledge only if it prevents the pitcher from making his next start, which has been the case often for deGrom this year.
"Jake is throwing harder and he’s older," Rojas said. "He’s going to start feeling different things maybe."
So it goes.
"As a pitcher, you go out there and you don’t feel great sometimes," deGrom said. "But how this was feeling, it wasn’t worth risking going out there. Could I? Probably. Would it be smart? Probably not. So that was the discussion we had to have. If I felt like I could go out there and not do anything and not injure myself more, then I would take the mound."