Mets ace Noah Syndergaard spent much of last winter doing pull-ups. This offseason, he has yet to do a single one. It’s perhaps the most stark example of his revamped workout routine after a season marred by a lat muscle tear.
“I’m still lifting heavy, but in a more smart way,” Syndergaard said on Thursday, when he dressed like an elf for the Mets’ annual Christmas party. “Last year was not necessarily the most smart thing I was supposed to be doing as far as exercise choice.”
Syndergaard bulked up last offseason, and some of that heft came by way of pull-ups. The workouts were intended to target his lat muscles, the same muscle group he injured in April. He did not return until September. By then, he had come to recognize how his offseason had gone wrong.
“It’s different,” he said. “It’s still taxing workouts. But my body has never felt better . . . I’m just working on certain flexibility issues that I’ve had probably my entire life that just haven’t been addressed. Just trying to become a more well-rounded athlete.”
Syndergaard began working with new Florida-based trainers. Earlier in the week, he spent time with a sprint coach for the Canadian national Olympic team to work on running mechanics.
“I’m not trying to become an Olympic sprinter anytime soon,” he said. “But I’m just working on overall flexibility so I’m not running like a fat guy in flip-flops.”
Syndergaard’s offseason also will be different once he begins his throwing program. For the first time in his career, he will have a detailed routine. It was designed by newly hired pitching coach Dave Eiland, who sent the plan last month to every pitcher on the Mets’ 40-man roster.
“It’s a little different, very structured, exact, precise throwing programs,” Syndergaard said. “Mainly, in previous offseasons, I’ve just kind of winged it in terms of how my arm felt. I really didn’t have any of this structure.”
On Thursday, Syndergaard was joined by reliever Jerry Blevins and catcher Kevin Plawecki, who also dressed as elves. They flanked Brandon Nimmo, who was designated to dress as Santa Claus.
“It was fun, a lot of fun,” Plawecki said. “I kind of channeled my inner Will Ferrell with the elf costume, so it was fun to put some smiles on their faces. Nimmo crushed it as Santa.”
All four had been contacted by new Mets manager Mickey Callaway, who said at his introductory news conference that he would make an effort to connect with his new players.
“I had a buddy with the Indians that texted me when the deal was made,” Syndergaard said of Adam Plutko, a pitcher in the Indians’ organization. “He was extremely jealous of us. He said Mickey’s as good as it gets.”
Blevins, an 11-year veteran, has never played for a manager with a pitching background. “It’s nice to relate on a different level with a manager,” he said.
While the coaching staff features new faces, it also has some key holdovers such as Pat Roessler, who was promoted to hitting coach after Kevin Long was passed over for the managerial job and left to become the Nationals’ hitting coach.
“I am very glad they kept Pat,” Nimmo said. “Obviously, I’m sad to see Kevin go, but both he and Kevin had the same hitting philosophy . . . someone who is familiar with us is a big deal on the offense. We don’t have to try to get the lingo down and all that stuff. He knows what we’re trying to accomplish and what we’re trying to get better at already.”
Notes & quotes: Blevins called the Mets’ need for another bullpen arm “pretty obvious,” especially with the Mets looking into shortening outings for starting pitchers . . . Syndergaard has been among those to check in with Matt Harvey, who is hoping for a bounce-back year after his massive struggles last season. “I’m rooting for him, always pushing for him,” Syndergaard said. “A healthy Matt Harvey is pretty dangerous.”