PHOENIX — Seth Lugo is back, and Mickey Callaway expects the Mets’ bullpen to be much better off because of it.
The Mets activated the righthander from the injured list Friday before their series opener against the Diamondbacks, 11 days after he was sidelined by inflammation in his biceps tendons and rotator cuff muscles. Officially, Lugo’s injury was right shoulder tendinitis.
Callaway expects Lugo to jump right back into his setup role, no surprise given that the team’s other top relievers — Robert Gsellman, Jeurys Familia, Edwin Diaz — have struggled of late. Upon his return, Lugo led Mets bullpen regulars with a 3.12 ERA.
“We’re confident he’s going to go out there and get big outs for us right away,” Callaway said. “Especially with how much stress our other main relievers have been having lately — because they’ve been pitching a lot of games — we’re not going to be afraid to put him in any situation.”
Although Lugo was never physically away from the team, it very much felt his absence. Mets relievers had a 6.81 ERA, fourth-worst in the majors, while he was out. In 11 games, they blew eight leads, most notably Diaz’s four-run disaster Wednesday against the Dodgers.
Lugo watched helplessly.
“I was hoping the guys would continue pitching like they did on the [6-1] homestand,” Lugo said. “I just wanted to watch stress-free. That homestand, when we were winning, I was like, ‘These guys are carrying it anyway.’ That feels great. But after especially that tough loss in the ninth [Wednesday], I was like, ‘Jeez, I want to get back now.’ ”
Lugo said he was relieved that the shoulder issue appears to be gone. It had bothered him all year, interfering not with his actual pitching but his ability to recover. Instead of bouncing back the way he did last year, Lugo dealt with extra stiffness in his arm. Callaway has used him on back-to-back days only once this season.
“It felt great when I was throwing,” Lugo said. “But I would need more time to recover.”
The Mets sent lefthander Daniel Zamora to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Lugo. Zamora has a 6.00 ERA in 11 games (six innings) for the major-league team this season.
Meeting of the minds
Although general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has attended almost every Mets road game this year — far from a norm for GMs but something he specifically wanted to do — this weekend is an exception. Instead, he is at the Mets’ complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, huddling with other club decision-makers and scouts ahead of the amateur draft, which runs Monday to Wednesday.
The Mets’ first pick is 12th overall.
This will be, of course, Van Wagenen’s first draft with the Mets. Among the highlights from Sandy Alderson’s first draft (2011): Brandon Nimmo (first round), Michael Fulmer (supplemental first round; traded to Detroit for Yoenis Cespedes), Gsellman (13th round), Lugo (34th round).
Robinson Cano (strained left quadriceps) continues to make progress, Callaway said. Might he return when eligible Sunday? Callaway: “The near future is possible.” … Chase Field’s artificial turf, new this year, meant the Mets’ pregame defensive work was a little more than going through the motions Friday. “You got to be prepared for it, because it’s going to play a little bit different than what we’re used to,” Callaway said. … A week after signing with the Mets, outfielder Matt Kemp made his organizational debut Friday, going 1-for-6 as the designated hitter for Syracuse. Kemp had been working out in Port St. Lucie … Jacob deGrom will get another brand-name opponent in his start Saturday: Zack Greinke (2.78 ERA). In his previous two games, deGrom faced Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer.
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