Jacob deGrom said he isn’t too worried about the tight lower back that put him on the injured list, and he thinks he knows what has been causing his physical problems this month.
Now it is just a matter of fixing it.
"It boils down to my delivery," deGrom said in a video news conference during the first inning of the Mets’ game against the Orioles on Tuesday. "Having looked at it the past couple days . . . It’s going to take this time through, cleaning that up, and getting this out of there where it allows me to get back where I need to be."
Thus, deGrom has two goals for the coming days: Make sure his back is better, and make sure his mechanics are better.
DeGrom wouldn’t commit to missing just one start. Manager Luis Rojas said the Mets are "optimistic" that will be the case.
The plan for deGrom for now: physical therapy-type treatment every day, play catch every day, throw a bullpen session at some point.
When that bullpen session comes will help determine when deGrom can return.
"Level of concern is definitely not very high," he said. "The thought process on the IL part was we know it’s going to take a few days to get it back where we want it and be able to get on the mound and not rush out there and something happened like what happened Sunday."
What happened Sunday: After missing his previous scheduled start due to a sore right lat, deGrom was perfect for four innings against the Diamondbacks. In the fifth, he walked three batters. In the sixth, he threw a pair of warmup pitches and called for an athletic trainer to come to the mound, in effect pulling himself from the game.
Even then, deGrom said, he wasn’t worried about a long-term injury. But he knew something wasn’t right.
An MRI came back "clean," according to Rojas.
"There’s nothing going on," Rojas said. "Nothing in there. No inflammation, no sprain, nothing."
This makes six minor physical issues in the past year for deGrom, though only the most recent one required a trip to the IL. Four of the six involved deGrom’s back or neck.
"I don’t like missing any starts, but I feel like this is the right call. Hopefully, be back there and make every one once I do go back out there," deGrom said.
"I've had a few minor injuries but I've taken the ball quite a bit. It stinks not being out there. That's the bottom line. I want to be out there, I want to compete, I want to be out there every fifth day and that helped make this decision easier because I didn't want the result turning into something more serious."
The Mets have not determined how they will replace deGrom in the rotation for at least that one start. Thanks to days off, they don’t need a fifth starter until next Tuesday, when they play the Braves.
"If we need a starter at some point, once we’re getting closer there, we can talk about what kind of options we have," Rojas said.
For the Rays series, the Mets have David Peterson on Friday, a starter to be announced/determined on Saturday and Marcus Stroman for Sunday. The TBA/TBD spot belongs to Joey Lucchesi. Last time, the Mets preferred a de facto bullpen game (including three innings from Lucchesi) over a traditional start.
Then it’ll be waiting game to see how deGrom’s back — and his mechanics — feel.
"This is minor," deGrom said. "Let’s keep it that way, get rid of it and go from there."
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