Mets pitcher Kodai Senga during a news conference on Feb....

Mets pitcher Kodai Senga during a news conference on Feb. 22, 2024 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

LAKELAND, Fla. — Kodai Senga is closing in on restarting his own personal spring training.

After his MRI this week yielded “very, very encouraging” news about his strained right shoulder, Senga is slated to begin throwing a baseball within a week, Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said Thursday.

He remains a ways away from returning — that won’t happen until early May in a best-case scenario — but this was a positive development for the Mets and their No. 1 starting pitcher.

“He’s pretty much clear from the doctors,” Mendoza said before the Mets’ exhibition against the Tigers. “Now, it’s up to our internal testing, making sure that he passes all the power tests, the shoulder strength and things like that before he starts a throwing program.”

A major lingering question: If the Mets were ultra-cautious with this stage of Senga’s rehabilitation, with what was initially an estimated three-week shutdown lasting basically five weeks, will they be similarly conservative and deliberate as Senga builds up during a throwing program?

“This is going to be very fluid,” Mendoza said. “Obviously, we’ll have those conversations with Kodai, our trainers, our medical group. We’ll have those conversations with him. And he’s been pretty honest. So yeah, we gotta make sure that we do this right.

“The fact that we’re taking extra time before he starts playing catch, I’m pretty sure we’ll approach it the same way once he gets going and starts touching the mound and things like that. But again, it’s fluid. His opinion matters, too. One step at a time.”

 

Normally, a pitcher’s preseason buildup lasts six weeks. Longer in Senga’s case would mean pushing his debut to mid- or late May — a full quarter or third of the season.

But Senga’s return date is less important to the Mets than, in Mendoza’s words, “making sure we do it right.”

“It’s one of those that we knew from the beginning that as soon as he got that injection, he was going to be for sure three weeks,” he said. “Then we were going to reassess. Here we are, making sure that he clears all the hurdles. But we’re very happy with where he’s at. You just gotta be careful, you know?”

David Stearns, president of baseball operations, said last week: “Time frames are our best understanding, our best suggestion. I’m always going to try to provide time frames. But sometimes it’s going to be shorter. Sometimes it’s going to be longer.”

Senga reported arm fatigue in mid-February, and after a first round of testing was diagnosed with a posterior capsule strain in the back of his shoulder. He hasn’t done any baseball activity since but was due this week for a follow-up MRI, which came Tuesday night.

The Mets had “a lot of people” examine the images Wednesday.

“Inflammation is gone,” Mendoza said. “Everything is good. Clear. Once he passes all of our internal testing, he’ll begin the throwing program.”

In the meantime, Senga’s rehab regimen has called for work days lasting 6-8 hours, similar to what he’d be doing if healthy.

“There’s a lot of work being put in in the training room,” Senga said through an interpreter recently. “The trainers put me on a schedule. It can be tedious and it seems like, oh, rehab, no throw, get here, get treatment, go home. But it’s not as simple as that. There’s a lot of work being done, so I’m here for a long time.

“I don’t know if bored is the right word, but I want to play. I want to be out there. But I still have a lot to work on so I can be out there.”

YOU'VE BEEN SELECTED

FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.