Jacob deGrom will not face the Yankees this weekend, but he still is slated to pitch Opening Day.
That is according to manager Luis Rojas, who said Friday that the Mets will take it slow with their ace by having him throw 50 to 60 pitches during a simulated game Sunday at Citi Field. The Mets made that decision after deGrom passed another test Friday morning by throwing a routine 17-pitch bullpen session.
“It felt like a regular side [session] for him,” Rojas said.
DeGrom previously said he hoped to take the mound at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. But the Mets prefer the more controlled environment and the guarantee that he will be able to reach his desired pitch count as he builds toward the season opener against the Braves on Friday.
A tick behind schedule because back tightness limited him to one inning in a scrimmage Tuesday, deGrom would be in line for approximately 85 pitches in the first regular-season game, if all goes smoothly.
“Him going to that sim game will help him reach that mark rather than being in a game [against the Yankees] where we make pitching changes, he can get pulled out, some things can happen,” Rojas said. “Right now, we’re hoping for that on Sunday and we’re hoping for Opening Day as well.”
Faces in the crowd
For a few Mets, the cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands are a prank opportunity.
J.D. Davis said when he, Dominic Smith and Michael Conforto found out they cost $86 apiece — cupholder money for major-leaguers — they considered paying to have embarrassing photos of each other/teammates blown up and put in the seats.
“That’s definitely a hot topic right now, just to buy some cutouts and see where we could put them,’’ Davis said. “That’d be funny.”
Davis said the existing cardboard cutouts are “definitely weird and definitely a cool thing too.”
“It’s for sure not the same just to have a cutout instead of a normal person,” he said. “But I think it’s pretty cool just to have faces out there in the stands instead of just regular empty seats.”
Marcus Stroman and Erasmo Ramirez each pitched three innings in an intrasquad game.
Amed Rosario and Smith homered off Stroman and Wilson Ramos went deep against Ramirez. It was the second scrimmage homer of the week for Smith and Ramos.
“He’s feeling it right now,” Rojas said of Ramos.
Stroman tossed an extra simulated inning in the bullpen to get his total pitch count to about 80. Rojas said that was the plan going into the day.
Edwin Diaz and Dellin Betances each got only two outs before their innings ended, an effort to keep their pitch counts down. The Mets plan to have both play Saturday, their first time pitching back-to-back days.
Gordon Beckham has been working at shortstop with infield coach Gary DiSarcina and played there Friday. Mostly a second baseman and third baseman in his 11 major-league seasons, Beckham played 18 games at short for the Tigers last year . . . Rojas wouldn’t commit to Jed Lowrie (unspecified left leg issues) being ready for Opening Day, noting that he has had problems with baserunning . . . The Mets installed tents behind both dugouts to allow players and coaches more room during games. So far, the Mets have crammed into the dugouts, not abiding by social distancing rules.