Even with Ray Ramirez out of the picture, the New York Mets were welcomed to the 2018 season with the injury bug once again being a steady presence in the clubhouse. And it looks like it might claim the very beginning of the season for one of their pitchers, Jacob deGrom.
On Tuesday, Mets manager Mickey Callaway made it known that deGrom might not be ready for his first start of the regular season after being sidelined with lower-back stiffness this week.
He's just the latest Met to be featured on an injury report that already contains Yoenis Cespedes (sore right shoulder), new reliever Anthony Swarzak (left calf), Dominic Smith (strained quad) and Juan Lagares (hamstring). Jay Bruce has also been dealing with plantar fasciitis but has been able to take part in early spring training games.
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On Wednesday morning, deGrom updated the media on his status, which didn't necessarily clear things up.
"Definitely want to be ready for [the first start of the year," deGrom said. "I think the thing is to be smart, though. If I wasn't ready the first week or so and then healthy for the rest of the year, then that's what it has to be."
deGrom hasn't had much of a chance to get in a groove with the team down in Port St. Lucie, FL during spring training. The team pushed him back a few days so he could attend the birth of his daughter, Aniston Grace, on Feb. 22.
Upon his return, deGrom reported feeling the stiffness in his back while playing catch.
He has since thrown off a mound, in which he said he felt "great" with no issues, a promising sign. The next step for him would be to throw a bullpen session as he continues to set his sights on getting back before the season begins.
"I think if things keep going smooth, I don't think there's a reason that I shouldn't be ramped up enough," deGrom said. "I think if everything goes as planned, I should be able to get ready."
Alongside Noah Syndergaard, deGrom was one of the favorites to start Opening Day on Mar. 31. This latest turn of events would likely make Thor, who looked solid in his spring training debut on Monday, the ceremonial first starter of the year.