WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Jason Vargas, already scheduled for hand surgery Tuesday in New York, threw one final side session Monday at First Data Field.
Even so, Vargas had his right hand bandaged beneath his glove, which he was unable to close completely because of the wrapping — an awkward problem that required another person to catch the return throws and give the ball to him.
The surgery is relatively minor, as Vargas will have the fractured hamate bone removed from the base of his glove hand. The Mets insist he will be ready to resume his throwing progression five days after the procedure if the surgical wound allows it by then. Neither Vargas nor the Mets thinks skipping a turn or two through the rotation will be necessary.
“At this point, it all depends on how the sutures heal up,” Vargas said. “We’re hoping for the best and go from there.”
The Mets have plenty of available starters, and after Steven Matz pitched six innings and struck out nine, including five straight, in Monday’s duel with a full-strength Astros lineup, the front office should be confident enough to give the highly touted original five of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Matz a chance to pitch together for the first time.
The Mets have been waiting three years for a moment that repeatedly has been scuttled by injuries, and now won’t commit to the possibility. When Sandy Alderson was asked Monday if it would be meaningful to him to have all five together — he traded for Syndergaard and Wheeler — the general manager didn’t come off as sentimental.
“Me personally? No,” Alderson said. “I’m past that. It’s about winning games and being competitive.”
Hurrying Vargas back to the mound would seem to run contrary to that. The surgery may be on his non-throwing hand, but he still has to play defense, and it was a batted ball that broke his hand in the first place. Vargas assumes the surgery will “alleviate” the current soreness in his hand and allow him to “catch the ball without re-injuring myself.”
Vargas got up to 55 pitches in his last start, so he’d likely need at least two more before joining the rotation. Wheeler will take his spot Thursday against the Nationals.