You could forgive Mets fans for being a little pessimistic when Jacob deGrom first complained of elbow soreness. Injuries haven’t treated this franchise all that well, the Mets themselves have handled injuries poorly in the past, and losing a pitcher of deGrom’s caliber has the potential to shipwreck the entire season.
So that’s why Monday’s ho-hum news was borderline surprising: Despite speculation that he wouldn’t undergo any test at all, deGrom got his MRI, and it was negative. In fact, he seems to be perfectly fine, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. In other words, the worst-case scenario is no longer the Mets’ reality.
“MRI was good, clean, no problem whatsoever,” Van Wagenen said before the scheduled game against the Phillies, adding that deGrom could potentially pitch as soon as he’s eligible to come off the injured list on Friday. “We had a very low level of concern originally and that was validated today… We got the answers we were looking for and now we can go all systems ahead.”
DeGrom was in the outfield a little before 3 p.m. Monday, playing catch and doing some light stretches. Afterward, he threw a bullpen session of about 30 pitches, which Mickey Callaway classified as going “pretty well.”
It’s a benign ending to a worrisome saga that began Thursday when deGrom, coming back from a bout of strep throat, first complained of soreness in his pitching elbow. First, he was placed on the IL, and then it seemed that maybe the injury wasn’t so bad after all. He played catch the next day, the Mets considered an MRI, and then considered not bothering with one. Dr. David Altchek, the Mets medical director, called in to consult with deGrom since the team was on a long road trip. And, all the while , fans fully expected the worst — partially because deGrom hasn’t pitched well in his past two outings.
Finally, on Monday, deGrom got his test.
It’s possible, Van Wagenen said, the soreness was a product of the strep throat, after all.
“His body was feeling achy throughout and he felt discomfort all over his body, but with his arm, you always want to be extra cautious,” Van Wagenen said. “Took a couple of days, felt good. For Jacob, he’s very routine oriented, and when he was not able to throw on his regular routine, we felt it better to get it checked out and make sure he could resume regular activities.”
And there was every reason for caution. Noah Syndergaard infamously declined an MRI on his injured bicep in 2017, only for him to eventually be diagnosed with a torn lat muscle that cost him nearly the entire season. Yoenis Cespedes, too, has been yo-yoed on and off the injured list during his tenure as a Met, the product of a series of injuries that he would try to play through before that became impossible.
Van Wagenen is aware of the perception — he sure is reminded of it enough — but said it didn’t lend itself to the MRI debate. In the end, he said, it just seemed like the safest decision.
“I don’t know if there was really internal debate as much as we were listening to the player, we were listening to the training staff and we wanted to make sure that we were smart and prudent,” he said. “That’s why we put him on the IL in the first place. We wanted to make sure he could see the doctor and at this point, it made sense for us to have the MRI done.”