Mets starters Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco may not be ready by Opening Day
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Offseason surgeries mean preseason questions for the back of the Mets’ rotation.
Buck Showalter hopes that Taijuan Walker, who had a right knee procedure in January, and Carlos Carrasco, who had a bone chip removed from his right elbow in October, will be in the season-opening rotation. But their readiness is not a certainty.
"We'll see where we get with those guys," the manager said. "We're approaching it like they're close. It may be as simple as the length of their outings aren't there early on. The question is, do we want to have them continue to pitch somewhere else to get them stretched out or start them with a three-inning stint or something?"
Walker described himself as a week or two behind the other starting pitchers. He hasn’t faced hitters and isn’t fully running yet, casting doubt about his availability in less than four weeks.
During one of Walker’s routine January workouts in Arizona, a piece of cartilage "broke off," he said, and his knee swelled up.
"We got it taken care of right away," he said. "We don’t really want to rush [the rehab process]. We picked up [Chris] Bassitt, we have some depth. There's really no reason to rush it now early in the year, especially with such a short spring training. We just want to be smart with it."
Carrasco said he is back to normal after losing the bone fragment that had bothered him off and on for seven years. He has faced hitters twice already and was pumped about hitting 92 mph during his bullpen session — pretty fast in that setting at this time of year, he noted.
"I kind of surprised myself," Carrasco said. "That’s a good sign right there. I feel very good."
Early returns on Showalter’s daily media sessions suggest he is as quotable as advertised. Among his tangents Tuesday was the revelation that he isn’t a fan of putting inspirational/motivational sayings up on walls (a pastime of previous Mets regimes).
"Because [players] read them one time and then they're just wall space," he said. "If I had one to put up, it would say, 'Play better.’ "
Regarding his enthusiasm for a potential fourth COVID-19 shot, Showalter said: "They can stick it anywhere they want to stick it."
Former Mets owner Fred Wilpon, who still has a minority share of the team, attended the team's workout Tuesday.
It was his first time meeting Showalter and GM Billy Eppler. He took particular delight in seeing Brandon Nimmo, whom he fondly remembered as a skinny 18-year-old from Wyoming when the Mets drafted him.
Showalter on Dominic Smith: "Dom's going to have a good year. He got un-Dom-like some last year. I can tell, even his body language and how engaging he is, he's in a good frame of mind right now." . . . The Mets signed lefthander Mike Montgomery to a minor-league contract, a source said. He was with the team last spring training but opted out of contract after not making the major-league team. Then he had poor results with the Yankees’ Triple-A team and in South Korea . . . Reliever Jake Reed cut his bullpen session short because of oblique soreness . . . Pete Alonso fully participated in the Mets’ workout, as planned, two days after his scary car crash in Tampa.