NEW YORK — Although Jacob deGrom is approaching a return to mound work, he remains at least a month away from a return. deGrom will require three to five Minor League rehab starts in his progression back from a stress reaction in his right scapula — a process that will take weeks to complete.
“When you start talking about bone, it’s a little different than muscle tendons,” pitching coach Jeremy Hefner said on Monday. “You don’t want to mess around with bone, especially with a stress reaction in bones. We don’t want to mess around with reinjuring that type of situation, because then he’s done for the year. So we’re definitely going to play the long game with him to make sure that we have him for the rest of the season.”
deGrom underwent another set of imaging tests on Monday, which revealed “continued healing in the scapula,” according to a team release the following day. The release also stated that deGrom “will continue to build distance and velocity in his throwing program,” but there was no word as to when he might be able to throw off a mound — the next significant step in his rehab. He has been throwing off flat ground up to 75 feet, according to Hefner.
The MRI and CT scan were deGrom’s third since initially complaining of shoulder pain in late March.
Given deGrom’s timeline and the fact that he isn’t yet throwing off a mound, mid-to-late June appears to be a best-case scenario for his return. July is also plausible.
“Obviously, we want him back as soon as possible,” Hefner said. “But you’ve got to really make sure that he’s built up properly, and everyone feels good, he feels good. … We need to make sure that not only are we doing what’s best for the Mets, trying to win the World Series this year, but also what’s best for the player.”
deGrom, who has missed time the past three seasons due to shoulder, elbow, forearm, lat and back pain, can become a free agent after the season. He has said that he intends to trigger that opt-out in his contract regardless of his injury status.
Once deGrom begins throwing in earnest, Mets manager Buck Showalter expects the two-time Cy Young Award winner to rejoin the team in New York. Right now, he and Hefner have been communicating with their ace through phone calls and text messages, with the Mets’ performance staff handling the bulk of the interaction.
deGrom, Hefner said, is in fine spirits, “throwing without pain or issue or anything like that.” He’s been watching from afar as the Mets have handled his absence with aplomb, sprinting out to one of the best records in the National League.
“The team’s performance, I think he wants to be a part of it,” Hefner said. “He’s doing extremely well. He’s doing everything he should be doing right now, so all signs are pointing positive.”