PORT ST. LUCIE — Max Scherzer’s pesky right hamstring scraped him from a recent spring training start on Saturday, leaving more questions about rotation as the Mets prepare to break camp.
A day after Jacob deGrom was diagnosed with a stress reaction on his right shoulder blade That leaves him on the injury list for quite a while at the start of the season. The Achilles tendon of the 37-year-old Scherzer came into focus.
The right-hander said he felt muscle tightness while running on Thursday but still expected to serve in a minor league game two days later. But when he loosened up for his performance, his Achilles tendon tightened and he didn’t want to risk any more injuries.
Scherzer is the obvious choice to replace deGrom as a starter in Thursday’s opening day in Washington, but says it’s “too early” to say if that remains an option.
“There you just have the conversations with the people above you,” said Scherzer. “I’ve climbed up to 90 pitches and my arm feels great. I definitely have the work to myself. What you want to do to progress, how you want to progress with it all depends on how good the hamstring feels. I’m not worried about that in the long term, but you have to deal with it now.”
Manager Buck Showalter hasn’t ruled out Scherzer’s possibility for the opener even without another spring training start.
“I think he’s already built more volume than most people at this point,” Showalter said. “I don’t think there is that need.”
Chris Bassitt will stay on schedule and serve in Sunday’s exhibition game, according to Showalter, meaning the earliest he can field in full rest in the regular season is Friday.
Showalter stated his goal is to avoid messing up his entire rotation just to fill one spot, i.e. Thursday. Opening day was originally scheduled to begin for deGrom, with Scherzer scheduled for Friday.
Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker are behind Bassitt in the rotation. The Mets are still considering candidates — primarily Tylor Megill, David Peterson and Trevor Williams — to fill deGrom’s rotational spot.
Scherzer, who arrived on a three-year, $130 million deal in the offseason, said he wasn’t worried about his hamstring due to his history of such injuries.
“I’ve had small hamstring injuries like this before and they go away within days,” Scherzer said. “I’m lucky, I’ve been pretty good not having any serious hamstring injuries, I’ve only had minor hiccups and I think it’s the same thing.
“I think that’s a minor hiccup. I just have to address it, so I’m working with the training staff to identify the cause because it’s frustrating because I’ve been working really hard this offseason to lift my legs really hard and do all the running. I feel like I was in a really good place with my body and my arm and it’s frustrating to have my arm at that point and have a little hiccup in my leg.”
Scherzer said it was “hard news” to learn that deGrom would be out for an extended period. DeGrom has been sidelined from pitching for up to four weeks and then has to rebuild.
“Just talking to him, he thought it was kind of a trifle,” Scherzer said, referring to deGrom’s initial shoulder strain. “It turns out to be a little bit more than minor. Now for him to be shut down for a couple of weeks you have to adjust that so he has to try and figure out that injury. Find out exactly what that is and attack it with everything you have.”