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Steven Matz to throw off mound Saturday, still could pitch next week for Mets

Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz delivers a pitch

Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz delivers a pitch against the Brewers during the first inning at Citi Field on Sunday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Steven Matz on Saturday will throw off a mound for the first time since receiving a cortisone shot to relieve nerve irritation in his left forearm, and the results will indicate whether he can stay on track to pitch next week.

Matz, who was placed on the injured list retroactive to Sunday, received the shot Monday and was instructed to rest the arm for a few days to allow the cortisone to work, he said. He long-tossed Friday and said he felt no more pain.

“It’s come and gone in my career,” Matz said. “It’s just something that I’ve managed. Normally, it would get better before each start when it did flare up. This wasn’t trending in that direction. That’s why we decided to take a step back.”

Usually, Matz would stay away from throwing curveballs between starts — the pitch that puts the most stress on the forearm — and would be recuperated enough to pitch as usual by the fifth day. It didn’t happen this time, though the Mets hope he can pitch Wednesday against the Nationals. Wilmer Font will start Tuesday, manager Mickey Callaway said.

Dr. David Altchek told Matz that the shot could take care of the issue for good.

“I’m getting better and tomorrow is going to be the big step of throwing off the mound” during his bullpen session, Matz said. “Hopefully it doesn’t derail me too long.”

Smith returns

Dominic Smith officially rejoined the Mets, to the delight of his teammates and the fans who were upset when the affable infielder was sent to Triple-A a week ago Friday.

The demotion left the Mets without a lefthanded hitter on the bench, something they could have used this week against the Padres. Smith compiled a .333/.459/.400 slash line before being sent down.

Callaway said he doesn’t know how long Smith will stay with the big club, especially with Matz on the way back and Jed Lowrie close to his return.

“Just like that, a couple days later, I’m back here. It’s nothing to dwell on,” Smith said. “I’m a very passionate person, I’m a competitor. A lot [of the feeling] was definitely shock, but [demotions are] a part of it. You just have to go on. I went down there with a clear mind. I wanted to just get better. I wanted to work on my game, working on getting better at the plate and playing every day.”

Good game for Lowrie

Lowrie went 3-for-4 with a homer in his rehab game with Triple-A Syracuse. Callaway said Lowrie thinks he needs more at-bats. He’ll be reevaluated and could return soon.   

Backpacks banned

Citi Field has instituted a new bag policy, banning backpacks and items larger than 16 inches by 16 inches by 8 inches, effective May 20. Other bags, including diaper bags and soft-sided coolers, will be allowed but must fit the size specifications.

New York Sports