Seth Lugo of the Mets pitches in the first inning during...

Seth Lugo of the Mets pitches in the first inning during a game against the Nationals at Nationals Park on Sept. 27, 2020 in Washington. Credit: Getty Images/Mitchell Layton

WASHINGTON — It might not sound like much for a professional pitcher, but Seth Lugo accomplished a notable rehabilitation task recently: He threw a baseball.

Lugo began playing catch last Sunday and has thrown from out to 75 feet, manager Luis Rojas said.

At the time of his February surgery to remove a bone chip from his right elbow, the Mets estimated Lugo would begin doing so March 30th. He ended up beating that by two days.

Rojas said that the Mets expect Lugo back in mid-May, which would basically grant him a normal spring training length of time to get into shape after he began throwing. But since Lugo has recovered so well this far, Rojas hinted at the possibility that he could beat that target.

"What was said was mid-May, so let’s see how he progresses," Rojas said Saturday at Nationals Park. "It’s good news that he’s throwing right now, he’s playing catch. He’s done it like three, four times already, counting today."

Without Lugo, their best reliever the past three seasons, the Mets plan to handle the late innings mostly with Edwin Diaz, Trevor May, Aaron Loup and Miguel Castro.

As the rotation turns

Rojas said the Mets have not decided who will start their fifth game of the season on Saturday against the Marlins. The options: Bring back Jacob deGrom on normal rest or use No. 5 starter Joey Lucchesi.

Either way, Lucchesi will be available out of the bullpen for the first couple of games, Rojas said.

Extra bases

The next step for Carlos Carrasco (strained right hamstring), per Rojas: Two simulated innings, sometime in the next few days . . . Rojas on deGrom’s participation in the Mets’ workout Saturday: "Jake is everywhere. He’s throwing off the [mound], next thing you know he’s [chasing flyballs during batting practice], he’s doing things, he just wants to be active. I think some of the guys want to get out of the hotel sometimes and just be here running around." . . . In a scrimmage at Nationals Park, Taijuan Walker threw four innings and each reliever threw one inning. Walker’s next outing will be the home opener, Thursday against the Marlins.

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