Rangers' deGrom throws 24 pitches and 'everything felt great'

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- After throwing 24 pitches in a minor league contest Monday, Texas Rangers pitcher Jacob deGrom said he thinks he'll be ready for Opening Day with his new club.

"That's up to them," deGrom said afterward. "I'm here to help us win. If it falls that I'm on Opening Day, that's a huge honor."

DeGrom, 34, had a minor setback at the start of the spring after feeling some tightness on his left side but he looked as nasty as ever in striking out five in a row over two innings Monday.

"First couple of batters, I didn't locate my fastball well but then started to mix it up and dialed in a little bit," deGrom said. "Everything felt great."

After giving up an inside-the-park home run, deGrom settled in. He used a four pitch mix, declaring his changeup and curveball "plus pitches."

But the veteran, who signed a five-year, $185 million deal with Texas during the winter, is known for an electric fastball. That's his bread-and-butter pitch.

"It comes down to locating the fastball," he said. "Considering what I had [side soreness] and getting rid of that and how I feel now, I like where we're at."

DeGrom has a history of missing games because of injury but said he probably would have pitched through this one had it been the regular season. He was limited to just 26 games for the New York Mets in 2021-22 combined.

DeGrom threw about 24 more pitches in the bullpen after the two innings, raising his total pitch count to near 50.

On the field throwing next to him was fellow free agent signee Nathan Eovaldi, who also was sidelined with a side issue. The two are part of an overhaul of the Rangers staff.

"We're going to feed off one another and get the ball rolling," Eovaldi said. "If the starters are going out there deep, it's going to save the bullpen."

Eovaldi also declared himself injury-free as both pitchers could make Cactus League starts next time out. For now, any health concerns for either one were dismissed after solid performances on the back fields at Rangers camp.

"It was early that it was like, 'Let's not do something where it turns into something major,'" deGrom said. "That was when I was debating whether to call [the trainers] or not. I was trying to play it smart, to be healthy."