New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom struck out five of the six batters he faced and threw 18 of 24 pitches for strikes in his first minor league rehab start for Class A St. Lucie on Sunday.
The only hiccup for deGrom against the Jupiter Hammerheads in Port St. Lucie, Florida, came when he hit a batter with a pitch.
As deGrom warmed up in the bullpen before the game, more than a dozen of the young St. Lucie players gathered behind him to watch his regimen.
He admitted after the game to having some nerves but was happy with how the start went overall.
« I felt like I had control of everything — the main thing was trying to locate the fastball and pitch off that. Everything felt good, » deGrom said, according to MLB.com. « [My shoulder] feels 100 percent. Because it was bone…you can’t really push it. I had to wait until the bone was healed and move forward from there. »
The two-time Cy Young Award winner has been sidelined all season because of a stress reaction in his right scapula that caused inflammation.
DeGrom’s most recent major league outing was on July 7, 2021. He missed the second half of last season with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow, then returned in spring training this year and made Grapefruit League starts on March 22 and 27.
But then he was sidelined by the stress reaction and didn’t throw another bullpen until June 4. The 34-year-old right-hander had been facing hitters at the team’s complex in Florida before Sunday’s start.
The Mets expect DeGrom to need several minor league rehab outings before he is ready to rejoin their rotation.
« No one wants to miss time, we all want to be out there competing, » deGrom said, per MLB.com. « It’s really tough. You want to be up there and help your team. »
Fellow ace Max Scherzer (5-1, 2.54 ERA) is scheduled to return from a strained left oblique muscle Tuesday night at Cincinnati. Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, got hurt May 18 against St. Louis and recently made two rehab starts for Double-A Binghamton.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.