Joey Lucchesi pitches in the first inning at Citi Field on...

Joey Lucchesi pitches in the first inning at Citi Field on Monday, July 23, 2018. Credit: Jim McIsaac

New Mets lefthander Joey Lucchesi pronounces his last name Loo-KAY-see, but he understands if you mess it up.

"I’ve heard Loo-cheesy, Loo-chessy," he said. "But I’m used to that, so it’s all good."

If he pitches the way he thinks he can, plenty of people will remember the name.

Lucchesi spent a portion of his offseason at Driveline — a data-driven player development facility outside Seattle that has become increasingly popular among pitchers in recent years — to smooth his delivery.

Last year, when he pitched in only three games for the Padres, his pitches weren’t as sharp as usual, he said. So he wanted to fix that.

"I cleaned up three parts of my mechanics: my lead leg, my front side and my scap[ula] mobility," he said Saturday. "That’s what I was just focused on hammering all offseason. Looking way better."

Lucchesi, 27, came to the Mets from the Padres in January as part of a three-team trade involving the Pirates. He was deemed expendable by San Diego after the Padres added a couple of aces from other teams (Yu Darvish, Blake Snell).

He was a rotation mainstay in 2018-19, posting a 4.14 ERA across his first two seasons in the majors, but felt he didn’t get much of a chance in 2020.

"I came into camp ready to go as always. I guess the GM or the manager, I don’t know what’s up, I guess weren’t seeing eye-to-eye," Lucchesi said. "I guess I didn’t have my best stuff the first couple starts. I feel like I’m a rhythm guy, getting my momentum. The more starts I get, the better I become. I feel like I didn’t get that chance. It is what it is."

When he pitches, keep an eye out for his trademark pitch, the so-called churve, a cross between a changeup and a curveball. He has thrown it since college, but it didn’t get its name until he was in the minors, when then-Padre, now-Brewer Eric Lauer birthed the portmanteau.

"And it just kind of stuck," Lucchesi said. "Everyone was like what is that? And I was like, ‘The churve, man. That’s the churve.’ So that’s how the name started. And it took off from there."

May, day one

A benefit of reliever Trevor May’s preexisting relationship with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, according to May, is that during his first bullpen session of spring training, Hefner helped May pretend he was facing Braves star Freddie Freeman.

Hefner worked for May’s previous team, the Twins, from 2017-19.

"I like to [simulate] some hitters at the end of my [bullpen sessions], especially in spring," May said. "Obviously, I’m picking the big guys from our division out of the gate because they’re guys I haven’t faced much. So I just turned [to Hefner] and said, all right, Freddie Freeman, scouting report, go. And he hit me with how you pitch Freddie Freeman and I went out there and tried to simulate the at-bat.

"I tried to imagine what he would be fouling off, what he would lay off, what he would maybe go for/maybe not. Obviously, I came out on top at the end, because you gotta have some confidence.

"But that is the kind of relationship we have. If I hadn’t known Hef beforehand, it’s probably not something I would’ve done day one. It’s a good exercise, and it’s a testament to the relationship we have already."

Noah sidelined, officially

The Mets put Noah Syndergaard (Tommy John surgery last March) on the 60-day injured list. He can’t return until late May at the earliest; the Mets have said they expect him to pitch again in June. That made room on the 40-man roster for righthander Taijuan Walker, whose two-year contract (with a player option for 2023) became official Saturday.

Extra bases

Owner Steve Cohen made an appearance in Port St. Lucie, Florida . . . The Mets’ first full-squad workout is scheduled for Monday, but manager Luis Rojas noted they might be missing some playersbecause of weather-related travel and coronavirus intake testing delays . . . The bullpen goal during camp is to get most relievers to throw two innings, Rojas said. But don’t expect the Mets to assign roles. "To define roles too early, it’s just not healthy," he said. "We want to keep guys ready to throw in any part of the game."

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