PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Jacob deGrom passed his final spring training test Friday afternoon at Clover Park, tossing a mostly uneventful six innings in a simulated game. Facing backups and minor-leaguers, he threw 90 pitches, which allows him to have a start of normal length against the Nationals on Opening Day on Thursday.
But there was one oopsie: Catching prospect Francisco Alvarez blasted an opposite-field homer off deGrom in the first frame. Alvarez seemed to know it was gone, too, walking away from the plate and watching over his shoulder as it banged off the light tower in rightfield.
Alvarez, 19, has played in only 42 games as a professional, all of them with rookie-level teams.
"It felt like he had a good approach today," said deGrom, who struck out Alvarez in their second matchup. "Put a good swing on a first-pitch fastball."
DeGrom allowed a couple of other hard-hit balls — including one the other way by Mallex Smith that went off the leftfield wall — but wasn’t sweating it too much. The atmosphere will be different when it matters most next week.
"You try to get as ready as you can for a game like this, but it’s just not the same as facing another team," he said. "So there will definitely be more adrenaline come April 1."
Alvarez’s afternoon with the big boys included catching Noah Syndergaard’s bullpen session. When they were done with the two simulated innings, Alvarez walked away, shook out his glove hand and laughed, an acknowledgment of Syndergaard’s velocity.
Syndergaard hit 97 mph, manager Luis Rojas said. And he still is two-plus months away from pitching in a major-league game.
"I don’t know if he was trying to throw it 97," Rojas said. "Things are [progressing] — not normally, of course, because, like, 97. And we talked about June [for a return]. But he’s just working hard."
Said DeGrom, "From what I’ve seen, it looks like he’s ready to pitch."
DeGrom on preparing for a season while negotiating a contract extension, which he did two years ago and which Francisco Lindor and Michael Conforto are doing now: "You definitely think about it. It’s not necessarily easy, but what makes it easier [is] being here getting ready. That’s the way I viewed it. If something didn’t get done, you got to go out there and still compete and be ready to play."
David Peterson held the Nationals to two runs in six innings (78 pitches) in the Mets’ 7-3 loss Friday. He also singled in his first plate appearance. In 2019, he had 12 at-bats with Double-A Binghamton, but he guessed that he hasn’t hit regularly since sophomore or junior year of high school. "I really don’t remember, to be honest," Peterson said. "It’s been a while." . . . Robert Gsellman, trying to win a bullpen job, had another poor outing, allowing two runs and four hits in two innings. One of the hits was a towering homer by Josh Bell . . . Rojas on Edwin Diaz: "He’s just maturing into a veteran pitcher, veteran closer even though he’s 27. It’s special what’s going on with him. You can see him becoming a monster."