With two days to go before their season opener, the Mets on Wednesday placed Marcus Stroman on the injured list with a torn muscle in his left calf.
Stroman, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, was hit in the calf with a line drive during an intrasquad game on Friday, manager Luis Rojas said. But the former Patchogue-Medford star shook it off and kept pitching.
On Monday, Stroman felt tightness in the calf during a 50-pitch bullpen session, Rojas said. Early Wednesday, the manager said Stroman was “day-to-day” with the injury.
On Wednesday afternoon, after an MRI showed the tear, Rojas had to admit Stroman is “week-to-week.”
The 2020 regular season is scheduled to last a little more than nine weeks.
The Mets’ 60-game sprint starts on Friday against the Braves at Citi Field. Stroman would have started either Saturday or Sunday, but now he will join Noah Syndergaard on the sidelines. Syndergaard was already out for the season after Tommy John surgery; it’s a mystery when Stroman will be able to return from an injury that can linger in a season that won’t.
“Man, it’s really unfortunate,” Rojas said. “ ’Stro put in a lot of work … and I was really excited to have the five guys ready to go right before the season started. He’s grinding through it. He got hit by that line drive. He finished his pitches. He came in, threw a 50-pitch side [Monday], and he’s good to throw. It’s just moving, what the challenge is. Getting off the mound and different things like that. It’s just really unfortunate. This guy, he’s a fighter. He wants to go. It’s unfortunate that he’s not going to start in that rotation for us.”
Rojas said the plan is to follow Opening Day starter Jacob deGrom with Steven Matz on Saturday and Rick Porcello on Sunday against the Braves. Porcello was supposed to start in Wednesday’s intrasquad game, but he was scratched so he can take Stroman’s spot.
Michael Wacha, who started the first spring training as the No. 6 starter, is now the No. 4. The fifth starter is yet to be determined. Rojas mentioned Corey Oswalt, Erasmo Ramirez and David Peterson as possible replacements.
“We have a lot of depth as far as a starting pitcher,” Rojas said.
It’s not true anymore, but it would have been less so had general manager Brodie Van Wagenen not signed Porcello and Wacha in the offseason.
One pitcher who is not being considered as a starter, Rojas said, is Seth Lugo. Rojas said that before Stroman’s diagnosis was revealed and repeated it after the Mets made the late-afternoon announcement.
“Right now, he’s strictly a reliever for this season for us,” Rojas said. “That’s how we’ve been operating . . . A great asset in the bullpen. Can do different things, obviously, as you’ve seen in the past. He’s going to be great. I think he’s going to be a great weapon for us in a season like this.”
The Mets are scheduled to play 13 straight days to open the season with their first off day on Aug. 6. They are done with intrasquad games and will have an optional workout on Thursday. The mad scramble to 60 games begins on Friday.
“I like where we are,” Rojas said before Stroman’s diagnosis was revealed. “The competition that we’ve been able to have out there . . . the competition’s been ramping up. I like where we are physically. I think we accomplished a lot. It was really hard and challenging at the beginning just to do all the things to get here, be healthy and get baseball going again as a team. This last week of camp where we get a little more competitive, I think we’re right where we want to be in order to start Friday against the Braves.”