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Mets wary of draft pick Kumar Rocker after physical but still expected to agree to deal, sources say

Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker throws during the first

Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker throws during the first inning in Game 3 of the NCAA College World Series on June 30 in Omaha, Neb.  Credit: AP/Rebecca S. Gratz

Kumar Rocker and the Mets were in a standoff of sorts Tuesday after the team expressed concern about his right elbow, but he still is expected to sign with the team, according to people familiar with the situation.

One source confirmed that after Rocker’s physical — a routine part of finalizing a contract — the Mets were wary of something learned during the battery of tests. Another source indicated that that should not interfere with the sides ultimately agreeing to a deal before the Sunday deadline to sign draft picks.

The Mets selected Rocker, a star pitcher at Vanderbilt, 10th overall in the draft this month. They agreed to a reported $6 million signing bonus shortly thereafter.

If Rocker does not sign, the Mets would receive an extra pick around No. 11 in the 2022 draft.

The New York Post was first to report the Mets’ concern over Rocker’s elbow.

Asked about where things stand with Rocker, acting general manager Zack Scott declined to comment Monday.

"I’m not going to comment on any drafted players," Scott said. "There’s an Aug. 1 signing deadline. Our plan is to address all 20 players’ situations at that time, so we’re not going to comment on any individual one of them right now."

Rocker is represented by agent Scott Boras, who also declined to comment.

Once a strong candidate to go first overall, Rocker dropped to the Mets after a junior season in which his fastball velocity sometimes dipped, though he was durable (122 innings across 20 starts) and effective (2.73 ERA).

There is recent Mets precedent for signing a draftee to a smaller bonus due to injury. In 2016, they picked Anthony Kay out of UConn in the first round. But when an MRI showed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow — requiring Tommy John surgery — they signed him to a $1.1 million bonus. The recommend bonus for the 31st pick was $1.97 million.

The New York Post was first to report the Mets’ concern over Rocker’s elbow.

Syndergaard’s big step

Noah Syndergaard threw off of a mound Tuesday for the first time in two months, a significant milestone in his comeback from Tommy John surgery.

"I was looking forward to this day," manager Luis Rojas said. "I know he was, too."

Syndergaard most recently pitched in late May, when elbow inflammation caused the Mets to shut him down again. Team officials have said they expect him back in September and have not ruled out him returning as a reliever.

The New York Post was first to report the Mets' concern over Rocker's elbow.

Carrasco’s big day

There is a "big chance" Carlos Carrasco (torn right hamstring) makes his Mets debut Friday at Citi Field against the Reds, Rojas said.

The previous plan was for Carrasco to pitch Saturday or Sunday. But now the Mets prefer to give Rich Hill an extra day or two of rest. (Marcus Stroman also will pitch this weekend.)

It is not clear why the Mets want to delay Hill.

"Everything is good with Rich," Rojas said.

Extra bases

David Peterson had surgery, as expected, on his fractured right foot. The Mets have not said if they expect him to pitch again this year . . . The Mets sent Travis Blankenhorn back to Triple-A and designated reliever Roel Ramirez for assignment to make room for Jerad Eickhoff, who re-signed and started Tuesday against Atlanta. They also returned West Islip native Nick Tropeano, the 27th man for their doubleheader Monday, to Syracuse.

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