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Mets' deGrom plays catch, studies mechanics amid side issue

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) leaves the mound during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sunday, May 9, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW YORK – Mets ace Jacob deGrom resumed playing catch and plans to evaluate his mechanics after New York placed him on the 10-day injured list Tuesday because of tightness in his right side.

The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner hopes his IL stint will be brief.

“We have to be smart there,” he said. “Don't do something where it turns into, now I'm missing a couple of months.”

DeGrom was pulled from a game Sunday against Arizona, his first appearance after skipping a start due to discomfort in his right lat muscle. The 32-year-old got an MRI on Sunday night that showed no structural damage.

Mets manager Luis Rojas said the team was unsure how the issue arose for deGrom, who is 3-2 with a major league-best 0.68 ERA along with 65 strikeouts in 40 innings.

“The plan right now is to treat it because it's tightness and to make sure that when he's throwing, there's nothing getting out of whack because of the tightness,” Rojas said.

DeGrom was uncharacteristically wild in the fifth inning Sunday, walking three batters in an inning for only the second time in his big league career. He threw two warm-up pitches ahead of the sixth inning before leaving the game after 68 pitches.

DeGrom said his mechanics were off in the fifth, causing the right-hander to drop his arm angle and get under the ball — hindering his ability to control all his pitches.

DeGrom said Tuesday that he became concerned when he couldn’t fix his delivery on the fly, normally a strength for the three-time All-Star.

“I felt like that was stopping me from making the adjustment, the tightening up, from making the adjustment I needed to,” he said.

Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and others on New York's staff will closely monitor deGrom's motion as he plays catch the next few days. DeGrom also will get massages and other treatments on his side — the tightness is centered near his lower-right back — prior to playing catch.

“This is what happens sometimes when you're tight from a particular area,” Rojas said. “You don't feel pain, but it really causes you to move differently, rotate, land, it causes a lot of things. You can lose your arm angle, and it can expose some things.”

The Mets will have deGrom loosen and throw daily until he's ready for a bullpen session — deGrom said he wanted to keep the arm moving while the tightness hopefully subsides. Rojas was unsure if deGrom would return when he's eligible May 20. DeGrom and the club don't believe this tightness is related to the lat issue.

DeGrom is baseball’s hardest-throwing starting pitcher, with 79 pitches of 100 mph or higher since the start of the 2020 season, according to MLB Statcast. Miami’s Sixto Sánchez in second with 13.

Of those, deGrom reached 100 mph 42 times in the first inning alone. Sánchez is second with eight.

Right-hander Sean Reid-Foley was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse, but Rojas said the team hadn't decided how to fill deGrom's vacated rotation spot. The Mets are off the next two Thursdays, meaning they could proceed with a four-man rotation.

NOTES: OF Brandon Nimmo (left index finger bone bruise) is ready to begin hitting of high-velocity machines and is closer to returning than 3B J.D. Davis (sprained left hand). Both are eligible to return from the 10-day injured list this week, but the Mets haven't decided if they're ready. Davis may need a minor league rehab trip to test his hand before he returns.

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