Working his way back, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom plays catch, plans to mull mechanics

NEW YORK -- Mets ace Jacob deGrom resumed playing catch and plans to evaluate his mechanics after New York placed him on the 10-day injured list Tuesday because of tightness in his right side.

The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner hopes his IL stint will be brief.

"We have to be smart there," he said. "Don't do something where it turns into, now I'm missing a couple of months."

DeGrom was pulled from a game Sunday against Arizona, his first appearance after skipping a start due to discomfort in his right lat muscle. The 32-year-old got an MRI on Sunday night that showed no structural damage.

Mets manager Luis Rojas said the team was unsure how the issue arose for deGrom, who is 3-2 with a major league-best 0.68 ERA along with 65 strikeouts in 40 innings.

"The plan right now is to treat it because of it's tightness and to make sure that when he's throwing, there's nothing getting out of whack because of the tightness," Rojas said.

DeGrom was uncharacteristically wild in the fifth inning Sunday, walking three batters in an inning for only the second time in his big league career. He threw two warm-up pitches ahead of the sixth inning before leaving the game after 68 pitches.

DeGrom said his mechanics were off in the fifth, causing the right-hander to drop his arm angle and get under the ball, hindering his ability to control all of his pitches.

DeGrom said Tuesday that he became concerned when he couldn't fix his delivery on the fly, normally a strength for the three-time All-Star.

"I felt like that was stopping me from making the adjustment, the tightening up, from making the adjustment I needed to," he said.

Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and others on New York's staff will closely monitor deGrom's motion as he plays catch the next few days. Prior to playing catch, deGrom also will get massages and other treatments on his side since the tightness is centered near his lower-right back.

"This is what happens sometimes when you're tight from a particular area," Rojas said. "You don't feel pain, but it really causes you to move differently, rotate, land, it causes a lot of things. You can lose your arm angle, and it can expose some things."

The Mets will have deGrom loosen and throw daily until he's ready for a bullpen session. DeGrom said he wanted to keep the arm moving while the tightness hopefully subsides. Rojas was unsure if deGrom would return when he's eligible May 20. DeGrom and the club don't believe this tightness is related to the lat issue.

DeGrom is baseball's hardest-throwing starting pitcher, with 79 pitches of 100 mph or higher since the start of the 2020 season, according to MLB Statcast. Miami's Sixto Sanchez is in second with 13.

Of those, deGrom reached 100 mph 42 times in the first inning alone. Sanchez is second with eight.

Right-hander Sean Reid-Foley was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse, but Rojas said the team hadn't decided how to fill deGrom's vacated rotation spot. The Mets are off the next two Thursdays, meaning they could proceed with a four-man rotation.

The news on deGrom comes as the Mets are in their best stretch of a topsy-turvy season. They take a five-game winning streak into Tuesday's game, and are in first place in the National League East.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.