NEW YORK — Although Jacob deGrom is nearing a return to work on the mounds, he remains at least a month away from a comeback. deGrom will need three to five Minor League rehab starts in his progression after a stress reaction in his right shoulder blade – a process that will take weeks.
“When you start talking about bones, it’s a little bit different than muscle tendons,” pitching coach Jeremy Hefner said Monday. “You don’t want to mess with the bones, especially with a stress reaction in the bones. We don’t want to play with another injury in this kind of situation, because then he’s done for the year. So we will definitely play the long game with him to make sure we have him for the rest of the season.
deGrom underwent another round of imaging tests on Monday, which revealed “continued healing of the scapula,” according to a team statement the next day. The statement also said deGrom “will continue to increase distance and speed in his throwing program,” but it was unclear when he might be able to throw a mound – the next big step in his rehabilitation. He threw on flat ground up to 75 feet, according to Hefner.
The MRI and CT scans were Grom’s third since he initially complained of shoulder pain in late March.
Considering deGrom’s timeline and the fact that he’s not yet tossing a mound, mid-late June seems like a best-case scenario for his return. July is also plausible.
“Obviously we want him back as soon as possible,” Hefner said. “But you really have to make sure that it’s built well, and that everybody feels good, they feel good. … We have to make sure that not only are we doing what’s best for the Mets, trying to winning the World Series this year, but also what’s best for the player.
deGrom, who has been out for the past three seasons with shoulder, elbow, forearm, lat and back pain, can become a free agent after the season. He said he intends to trigger this exclusion in his contract, regardless of his injury status.
Once deGrom starts pitching in earnest, Mets manager Buck Showalter expects the two-time Cy Young Award winner to join the team in New York. Currently, he and Hefner have been communicating with their ace through phone calls and text messages, with Mets performance staff handling most of the interaction.
deGrom, Hefner said, is in good spirits, “throwing without pain or trouble or anything like that.” He watched from afar as the Mets handled his absence with aplomb, sprinting to one of the National League’s best records.
“The performance of the team, I think he wants to be part of that,” Hefner said. “He is doing extremely well. He’s doing everything he should be doing right now, so all the signs are positive.”