Mets ace Jacob deGrom made his long-awaited return to the mound on Sunday when he suited up for Low-A St. Lucie. The flamethrower looked right at home, striking out five of the six batters he faced. His command and velocity were there too; 18 of his 24 pitches were strikes, and his fastball entered the triple digits more than once.
It was a step in the right direction for the 34 year old. deGrom has been sidelined since Spring Training with a stress fracture in his right scapula, but on Sunday he said he felt great: “It 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.”
Stress fractures occur in bones over time, in contrast to typical fractures. They get their name from the repeated mechanical stress placed on the bone itself. Once that stress becomes too great, a fracture forms. For deGrom, that happened in his scapula (shoulder blade) as a result of repetitive scapular muscle use – pitching will do that.
He’s correct that fractures can’t really be rushed. They aren’t muscles or ligaments that can be stretched or compressed to alleviate pain. Bones must be left alone to heal properly and thoroughly. So deGrom getting back out there and feeling nothing is immense. He added that his main concern heading into the start was control, but he figured out pretty quickly that wasn’t going to be an issue. “I felt like I had control of everything,” deGrom said “The main thing was trying to locate the fastball and pitch off that. Everything felt good.”
Despite the performance, deGrom will need a few more rehab starts. His next scheduled start will be this Friday with St. Lucie again, and he is expected to have another 2-3 starts after that. He is on a five-day schedule (pitch every five days), which means he should return to New York in late July.