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Jacob deGrom says he's feeling better, expects to pitch Sunday when Mets face Diamondbacks

Jacob deGrom #48 of the Mets in the

Jacob deGrom #48 of the Mets in the dugout after the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on Friday, Apr. 23, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

ST. LOUIS — Jacob deGrom is feeling just fine, according to Jacob deGrom.

A day after the Mets scratched their ace from his start because his right lat was sore, deGrom’s condition has improved and he was eyeing a return to action Sunday, he and manager Luis Rojas said Wednesday.

His on-field activity at Busch Stadium was limited to several sprints in the outfield hours before the Mets’ doubleheader against the Cardinals. The next step is a doctor’s appointment Thursday, then playing catch if he gets the OK.

That would lead to a bullpen session Friday and a start Sunday against the Diamondbacks, both at Citi Field.

"If everything goes well," deGrom said. "I’m feeling good now."

This problem originated in his most recent start, last week against the Red Sox, deGrom said. He felt more sore than normal the next day, but he didn’t think much of it and attributed it to a mechanical problem. It subsided in the days after, and he threw a routine bullpen session in Philadelphia over the weekend.

Upon waking up in St. Louis on Monday, however, his lat was sore. He said he gave a heads up to the athletic training staff, pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and Rojas (which contradicts Rojas saying he was unaware until Tuesday).

"I said, hey, we’ll see how it is [Tuesday], I just wanted to give you a heads up," deGrom recalled. "Then woke up [Tuesday] and didn’t really notice much of an improvement. I was like, hey, this didn’t improve.

"If it improved a little bit, I felt like I would’ve been fine, just battling through some soreness. But decided to let them know and wanted to get it looked at just to be safe early in the season, didn’t want to do anything. Hopefully just miss one [start], where if I went out there and did something and actually hurt myself, would’ve been out a lot longer. So tried to err on the side of caution and just hopefully miss one."

Why not play it even safer and just go on the injured list, a scenario that would cost him only a few additional days/one additional start?

"After getting it looked at [in an MRI] and the spot it’s in, it’s in a good spot, I guess," deGrom said. "Any time it creeps up towards the armpit, then it’s not good. But the spot it’s in is definitely manageable."

DeGrom noted that it is normal for his lat — and body generally — to be sore the day after a start, but usually it goes away as he gets closer to his next game. If it doesn’t, suggesting it might be more than routine aches, that is when he tells team officials.

That has happened a bunch to deGrom recently. Since July, he has had brief bouts of back tightness and neck tightness, plus a right hamstring spasm (and a blister).

This lat soreness appears to be another minor issue. In the meantime, he is trying to maintain shoulder strength.

"I've been trying to do that to keep everything on line and not have a big setback where you're looking at a pitch count," deGrom said. "Get the inflammation out of there and keep my shoulder strong is what we're working on."

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