ATLANTA — Taijuan Walker didn’t get bad news about his back Wednesday, but he didn’t get great news, either.
Manager Buck Showalter said Walker’s next start, scheduled for Sunday against the Phillies, is in question because of the back spasms/tightness that limited him to two innings Tuesday. An MRI, however, showed no structural damage, so the Mets seem optimistic this will not be a long-term issue.
“Pretty good, all things considered,” Showalter said. “Sunday start is in jeopardy but we’re still going to hold out hope it manages before that. We’ll go day to day right now.
“It’s something he’s had crop up some in the past and it’s managed well, so we were just checking it out and making sure there wasn’t anything new structurally there. So far so good.”
Walker has a 3.36 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in his final season before reaching free agency again. If he can’t pitch, the Mets’ limited options include prospect Jose Butto, a 24-year-old righthander who recently was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse.
“We already got some what-if plans in action,” Showalter said.
In dealing with a strained left oblique that will keep him out for at least three weeks, Carlos Carrasco got advice from a newly minted expert on the subject: Max Scherzer, who missed seven weeks with a more severe version of the same injury.
Scherzer’s suggestion was to maintain as much strength in his right arm as possible, Carrasco said. That way, when Carrasco is healthy enough to resume throwing, he won’t have as much ground to make up.
“He told me the main part was just keep my arm going, try to do something to get my arm going, so when I go back to normal I don’t have any setbacks,” Carrasco said. “I just want to get back in there and pitch. There’s nothing I can do right now, so right now I’m just getting a lot of exercise to get back.”
Escobar not ready
The Mets hope Eduardo Escobar will return as soon as he is eligible — Aug. 26 — after finally putting him on the injured list with a strained left oblique Wednesday.
He tried to play through that problem for a few days, but his inability to bat righthanded, which has been his good side of the plate this year, meant he shouldn’t play at all, he said.
“It’s not anything too major, but at the same time, I want to be able to take those 10 days and recover properly, because if I don’t do that and I continue playing, I could possibly lose the rest of the season,” Escobar said through an interpreter. “I also want to be able to go out there, be the same player that I’ve always been in my career. For me to go out there and hit lefthanded against a lefthanded pitcher — that’s not what I do, that’s not what I’ve done, that’s not the player that I am.”
Maybe next time
The Mets won’t be able to meet Noah Syndergaard from 60 feet, 6 inches away this weekend.
For the second time this year, Syndergaard’s start will be pushed back by a day, causing him to miss a matchup with his former team. He had been lined up for Mets-Phillies by Sunday (which already would’ve been an extra day of rest) but instead will face the Reds on Monday (on two extra days of rest).
Syndergaard, who pitched Monday on regular rest for the first time all season, followed a similar routine to just miss the Mets when they visited the Angels in June. He wasn’t scheduled to pitch when the Phillies came to Citi Field last weekend.
Other injury updates
Showalter said he expects Tommy Hunter (low back soreness) back on Sunday, the first day he is eligible to come off the IL.
Tomas Nido, who is on the COVID IL, might be back as soon as Saturday, according to Showalter. His latest return would be for the Yankees series, which is Monday/Tuesday.
Joey Lucchesi, recovering from Tommy John surgery in June 2021, is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Sunday. He’ll throw one inning for Low-A St. Lucie.
The Mets called up lefthander Sam Clay and designated righthander R.J. Alvarez for assignment.