Rangers pitcher Max Scherzer warms up before a game against...

Rangers pitcher Max Scherzer warms up before a game against the Rockies on May 10 in Denver. Credit: AP/David Zalubowski

ARLINGTON, Texas — Everything is bigger in Texas — except traffic jams, apparently.

Former Mets aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer are happy, if hurt, in their new lives with the defending World Series champion Rangers. They’re nearing returns from their surgeries: later this week for Scherzer, later in the summer for deGrom.

Both righthanders were all smiles Monday afternoon as they said hello to their favorite Mets people before the start of a series between their former team and current team. For deGrom, this was the first time he’d be watching the Mets from the other dugout, as he wasn’t around for the Rangers’ visit to Citi Field last summer.

So now that they’ve done it for a while, what is the biggest difference between living in New York and living in greater Dallas?

DeGrom, 35, pointed to goings-on being “a little bit slower-paced,” which has been especially true during the past year as he has recovered from Tommy John surgery.

Scherzer had a more incisive take.

“Here in Texas, you drive with the gas pedal,” he said. “In New York, you drive with the brake.”

 

In between hugs and handshakes with those clad in blue and orange, deGrom actually had a landmark day: He threw off a mound for the first time since having the ulnar collateral ligament tear in his right elbow repaired.

He didn’t want to commit to when he’ll pitch again — classic deGrom — but he targeted August upon having surgery last season.

Health willing, deGrom will experience his first return to Queens next season when the Rangers make their every-other-year visit.

“That’ll be interesting,” said deGrom, who joined the Rangers on a five-year, $185 million contract before the 2023 season. “The fans were always great to me there. My goal was to always leave it all out on the field, for the team and for the fans. Now the goal is to get back healthy and do that here.”

The Mets employee whom deGrom remains closest with, he said, is longtime bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello. He also highlighted reunions with Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo, Adam Ottavino and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner.

“Those are lifelong friends,” deGrom said. “That’s the cool thing about this game: You meet people along the way who will be lifelong friends. So still keep in touch with those guys and always wish them the best.”

And then there is Scherzer, who is due to make his season debut in the days after this series concludes Wednesday. He had surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back in December, then suffered a May setback in the form of a nerve issue in his right thumb.

In looking back at the Mets’ decision last July to trade Scherzer to the Rangers for prospect Luisangel Acuna — and Scherzer’s decision to approve that trade — consider: Had they kept him, they probably would not have received a single inning from him to this point.

“Everybody had to make a baseball decision on all sides. For me, it worked out well,” said Scherzer, who won his second World Series ring last fall. “We all had a good group there. We all jelled well together. You remember those teammates fondly.”

For Scherzer, who will turn 40 next month, the nerve issue raises bigger-picture questions about how much longer he’ll pitch.

In his heart, he said, he wants to keep going in 2025 and perhaps beyond, but it’s a matter of what his body will take.

“My heart is in it, definitely,” he said. “I came into this year wanting to pitch next year. I didn’t come into this year thinking it’s my last year. I definitely want to pitch next year. We’ll see.”

He explained that the problem was his “radial nerve was all [upset],” causing pain that began in his thumb and ran up his arm and into his triceps.

He tried to combat it by upping his forearm exercises and increasing his grip strength — an offseason focus that proved not to be enough, he said.

Depending on how his arm and body handle the next few months, this could be it for the likely future Hall of Famer.

“You’re dealing with nerves,” Scherzer said. “That’s long-term-damage type of stuff. There’s plenty of pitchers who have tried to navigate that and can’t. There’s really no way you can beat it. That’s what I’ve been dealing with.”

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