ST. LOUIS — A chaotic 24 hours for the Mets became even more so Tuesday when they scratched ace Jacob deGrom from his start against the Cardinals because of right lat inflammation.
Encouraged by MRI results, the Mets opted not to put him on the injured list in the hope that he can make a start this weekend against the Diamondbacks at Citi Field, which one person familiar with the situation described as a best-case scenario.
The short-term plan: DeGrom "will refrain from throwing the next few days," the team announced.
"He’s optimistic about what’s next after the two days off," manager Luis Rojas said.
An IL stint can be backdated three days — turning the minimum 10 days into a week — so officially sidelining deGrom would cost him only a few additional days. The Mets did not do that, a source said, because they believe deGrom’s condition won’t worsen.
Notably, the Mets have question marks on Saturday, which would be fill-in starter Joey Lucchesi’s day, and Sunday, which would be deGrom’s turn again.
The Mets named reliever Miguel Castro as deGrom’s replacement for Tuesday, but the game was rained out. The teams will play a doubleheader at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday. Marcus Stroman will pitch the first game, with a starter for the second game to be announced.
The Mets called up righthander Jordan Yamamoto, who was supposed to make the Opening Day start for Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday. He arrived at Busch Stadium before the would-be game time after taking a private plane from Syracuse.
Righthander Sean Reid-Foley was sent to the minors in place of Yamamoto.
Rojas said he didn’t learn that deGrom was experiencing tightness in his right side until about noon Tuesday.
"I saw him before coming to the field and he was stretching, trying to feel his right side a little bit," he said. "And that's when we started discussing whether he was going to start or not. And then we got to the point where he's not."
This was the second time in five turns through the rotation that the Mets held deGrom back an additional day. Rojas maintained that was unrelated to any physical problem.
"Well today I just learned about this," Rojas said. "But the times that we've pushed him is just because it's been precautionary, thinking of the long run more than anything. It's nothing that had to do with this. This was today."
A scare like this is not an unusual occurrence for deGrom, who routinely is briefly sidelined by minor physical ailments once or twice per year. Last year, it was a stiff neck. The year before that, a sore elbow. Before then, a hyperextended elbow. He also has been slowed by preseason back tightness a couple of times.
None of those turned into long-term injuries. Last August, he didn’t even need to go on the IL and wound up pitching three days later.
The deGrom news came after the Mets fired hitting coaches Chili Davis and Tom Slater late Monday night. Players learned of the front office’s decision only after it became public. Acting general manager Zack Scott held a team meeting to discuss it Tuesday.
All that made for a busy and difficult start to the week for the Mets, who are 11-12.
"It’s tough, each one. Those are things that come your way. The immediate reaction is they’re tough moments," Rojas said. "Even though it’s some of those challenging moments, for me it’s been comforting to see how the guys are just ready and they don’t get stuck in the moment."
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