Take it from Mets reliever Jared Hughes, now that his fight with COVID-19 is over: “It was a very difficult virus.”
Hughes joined the Mets on Sunday before their game against the Braves, his first time on the active roster since signing with the club in late June, just before camp restarted. He said he cleared all of his ramping-up thresholds — six practice innings in total, including a multi-inning outing and pitching back-to-back days — and is “feeling strong, feeling ready to go.”
But that wasn’t the case for most of July. Upon traveling from Texas to New York, Hughes was tested for the new coronavirus — like all of his teammates — and tested negative. All clear, right?
“About two days later, I felt some symptoms,” Hughes said. “I said, ‘Hey, you need to test me right now.’ And I was positive. And then it took about another eight or nine days or so to fight off the symptoms. And I had a bunch of them.”
The list was long: fever (consistently around 100.5-101.5 degrees), sweating, elevated heart rate, cough, aches, fatigue, headache, eye pain.
“I feel like you see that list of symptoms, and I had the majority of them,” he said. “The list goes on.”
When the virus seemed to relent but then returned, Hughes considered going to the hospital, he said. He decided against it because he didn’t want to put himself around other people.
At points, he “absolutely” considered not playing at all this season, he said. But, eventually, he and his wife, who is in Texas with their two young children, decided he would. And he is happy to be here.
“It was unique and scary and I’m glad I’m through it,” Hughes said of the virus. “For me to leave and immediately get it, it was a conversation we had. But the thing was, I was sick, so I couldn’t travel back home. And I came to play, so here I am, and I’m better now.”
Hughes stands to bolster a Mets bullpen that has been among the worst in baseball in the early days of this pandemic-shortened season. In nine years in the majors with the Pirates, Brewers, Reds and Phillies, he has a 2.88 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.
He spent spring training with the Astros but opted out of his contract in March. When MLB’s transaction freeze ended in late June, the Mets reached out with a job offer.
“I want to win. That’s what’s attractive,” Hughes said. “I really like our team here and I think we can do it. So as soon as the Mets called and they offered me the spot, I immediately jumped on it.”
To make room for Hughes on the 40-man roster, the Mets transferred Jed Lowrie (knee ligament looseness) to the 45-day injured list. He won’t be eligible to return until the final two weeks of the season. It is not clear of the Mets actually expect that to happen.
To make room for Hughes on the active roster, the Mets optioned Franklyn Kilome to the Brooklyn alternate training site. He pitched four innings in his major-league Saturday, so he would not have been available for the next few days.
The Mets traded righthander Tyler Bashlor to the Pirates for cash considerations. He was designated for assignment Tuesday.