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Jacob deGrom throws in simulated game; pitch count will be limited to about 85 in opener

Jacob deGrom of the Mets pitches during a

Jacob deGrom of the Mets pitches during a simulated game at Citi Field on Tuesday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

For whatever worry came from Jacob deGrom’s back tightness and ensuing MRI in recent days, all it will cost him is about 15 pitches on Opening Day.

In his final preseason outing, deGrom threw 60 pitches over four-plus innings in a simulated game Sunday afternoon at Citi Field, reaching his predicted workload limits. He struck out nine of 14 batters and threw his fastball 98-100 mph, manager Luis Rojas said.

That sets him up for a season-opener pitch count of about 85 against the Braves on Friday. Before this episode — which started when he threw just one inning in an intrasquad game Tuesday because his back stiffened up — he was looking at getting up to about 100 pitches.

“Jake was Jake,” Rojas said. “Everything went well.”

The Mets did not make deGrom available for an interview.

Exhibitionists

Yoenis Cespedes (0-for-2) played three innings in leftfield during the Mets’ 6-0 exhibition loss to the Yankees, but he didn’t get any chances to field a ball. The only one hit in his direction was a home run from Aaron Judge, on which Cespedes looked fine jogging to the wall as the ball flew well over his head.

Rojas said the Mets hope to have Cespedes available as an outfielder and as a DH at the start of the season.

“Right now, I’m actually surprised at what he’s able to do out there [as a runner],” Rojas said. “Even in leftfield off the bat, that drop step going back, which he did one time tonight. Unfortunately the ball went over the wall, but he looked natural for me.”

Seth Lugo retired all six of his batters.

In the fourth, Hunter Strickland — competing for a bullpen spot — entered with runners on second and third and nobody out and escaped the jam without allowing a run.

“That’s a good outing for Strick,” Rojas said. “I’m glad he’s showing that to us in the middle of a game in a situation like that.”

Corey Oswalt (two), Drew Smith (two) and Chasen Shreve (one) combined to give up five homers. Oswalt, getting the start in place of deGrom, allowed two runs and five hits in three innings.

Gsellman slowed down

A tight right triceps has limited reliever Robert Gsellman in camp, according to manager Luis Rojas, who would not commit to the righthander being ready for Opening Day.

Gsellman is “in a progression” and has been playing catch, Rojas said. He has not pitched in recent intrasquad or exhibition games.

Last year, Gsellman spent the final six-plus weeks on the injured list with what the Mets initially called triceps soreness but actually turned out to be a partial lat tear. Rojas said “I believe he recovered” from that problem and noted that Gsellman pitched in exhibitions in March.

Extra bases

Jeff McNeil, who had hamstring problems in 2019, is adding three postgame workouts per week to his routine, with a specific focus on strengthening his hamstrings. “We’re making sure that’s not a problem this year,” he said . . . Rojas said he has been impressed with how J.D. Davis, a natural third baseman, has looked in the outfield during camp. “He’s a lot more athletic out there,” Rojas said. “He got to some balls that I would question he would’ve got to those maybe last year" . . . Brandon Nimmo, a leading contender for nicest guy in baseball, on playing Saturday in an empty Citi Field: “Honestly, no knock against Miami, but it kind of just felt like playing in Miami.”

New York Sports