PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Kodai Senga’s signature pitch has been harder to spot lately — because he hasn’t been throwing it.
For a second outing in a row Wednesday, when he tossed four-plus innings in a 5-2 exhibition loss to the Astros, Senga said he didn’t use his splitter at all. Across three Grapefruit League starts, he has thrown it three times out of 147 pitches.
“Obviously, I had the finger tendinitis a little while back,” Senga said through an interpreter. “It’s not like anything is bugging me but obviously [I am] easing into it. I just want to be 100% going into the season. So there’s no need to rush anything.
“Whatever I can do to be at 100% for [the season]. It’s not like I can’t throw the splitter. I can definitely throw it like I did in earlier outings. It’s just an adjustment period for me.”
Senga skipped a start about two weeks ago after soreness in his right index finger was diagnosed as tendinitis. Team officials attributed it to Senga’s physical adjustment to a slightly different baseball than the one he was used to in Japan.
Asked if the splitter pitch/grip specifically was what made his finger hurt, Senga said “not exclusively.”
“A lot of my pitches have changed in terms of grip,” he said. “A little bit of fatigue that built up over time.”
Senga’s final preseason outing will come in an intrasquad scrimmage Monday. He said he doesn’t feel pressure to bring the splitter back then.
“I’m not worried about not throwing it at all,” he said. “I’m not worried about anything, really.”
Carlos Carrasco will not make his scheduled start in a minor-league game Thursday. Manager Buck Showalter attributed that to right elbow “maintenance” that for Carrasco is apparently routine.
“Stuff he does really every year a couple times a year,” Showalter said. “Sometimes it’s noticed, sometimes it isn’t noticed.”
Carrasco said he will continue to throw bullpen sessions leading up to his next start, which will be Tuesday in a minor-league game.
Brandon Nimmo (right knee and ankle sprains) was a full participant in the Mets’ workout Wednesday, including taking live batting practice against lefthander Brooks Raley. The Mets are aiming for Nimmo to return to Grapefruit League games this weekend, keeping alive his intention to be ready for Opening Day.
Showalter hopes that Raley (left hamstring strain) will pitch Saturday or Sunday as well.
With the WBC over, Pete Alonso will rejoin the Mets’ lineup Thursday against Atlanta. Jeff McNeil will head back to Port St. Lucie and accrue a bunch of at-bats in minor-league games instead . . . Showalter on McNeil’s leadoff walk against Shohei Ohtani in the ninth inning of U.S.-Japan Tuesday: “That might’ve been the best at-bat of the night.” . . . Al Leiter, in camp as a guest instructor, said former Mets GM Steve Phillips accepted his invitation to attend Leiter’s induction into the Mets Hall of Fame at Citi Field on June 3. The availability of ex-manager Bobby Valentine, who works Angels broadcasts, is to be determined . . . John Franco, another guest instructor, on whether he was interested in filling the Mets’ closer vacancy: “If I can pitch from 30 feet, yeah.”