A few days ago, during a round of batting practice, Mets rookie pitcher Jacob deGrom hooked a ball into foul ground. And for the second time, he narrowly missed hitting team captain David Wright.
So Wright responded by having some fun. He snipped a swatch of deGrom's distinctive flowing hair, then affixed it to a team-issued poster featuring the rookie righthander. It now hangs in the space between their lockers.
"I guess I deserved it," deGrom said Sunday after pitching the Mets to a 9-1 victory over the Marlins.
Aside from nearly whacking the team captain, little has gone wrong of late for deGrom, who has settled down after the first rough patch of his career.
His surge continued Sunday as he allowed one run and five hits in seven innings. The only run came with the help of Curtis Granderson, who lost a fly ball in the sun.
DeGrom walked two and struck out eight. In his last three outings, he has struck out 27 and walked four.
The Mets want to cap deGrom at about 185 innings, and manager Terry Collins hinted that the righty might be sent to the bullpen to cut down his workload when Jonathon Niese comes off the disabled list.
On Sunday, the manager reversed course. "We're not going to take Jacob deGrom out of the rotation," said Collins, who added that the Mets will watch closely for signs of fatigue.
DeGrom, 26, has logged 112 innings between the Mets and Triple-A Las Vegas. "I haven't really been sore this year,'' he said, "so I feel good."
He entered the All-Star break with a 3-5 mark and an impressive 3.18 ERA and has a 1.65 ERA in his last five starts.
Pitching has long been the Mets' organizational strength, headed by top prospect Noah Syndergaard, who is expected to eventually join Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. Prospects such as Rafael Montero and Long Island product Steven Matz also have generated buzz.
Until now, deGrom flew under the radar, which is why Wright called his emergence one of the biggest surprises of the first half. "No question," Wright said. "You heard about the Syndergaards, you heard about the Wheelers. Matz has been getting a lot of attention, Montero. But you never really heard too much about deGrom."