Jacob deGrom Diagnosed with Stress Reaction to Scapula

The season has yet to begin and deGrom is already looking at a lengthy absence. When news broke that deGrom was going for an MRI on his right shoulder we looked into his injury history and how that could play into a new arm injury.

Now an MRI has revealed a stress reaction to his right scapula. The scapula is a large, triangular-shaped bone that sits in the upper back/shoulder area. It is an important piece in the throwing motion and connects at the shoulder. A stress reaction isn’t as severe as a stress fracture or your standard fracture, but it still indicates damage to the bone. It tends to heal well with rest, and surgery should not be needed.

A stress fracture to the scapula is not a common injury, but it is something we see every once in awhile with pitchers due to the repetitive overhead throwing motion. deGrom likely tweaked his mechanics as he was coming back from the forearm and elbow injury that ruined his 2021 season. Even if this was unintentional, it can be just enough to put added stress on another body part, in this case the scapula. This injury is usually an overuse injury, meaning it happens over time. deGrom is also dealing with inflammation surrounding the scapula, and that could explain the tightness he experienced.

Now deGrom is going to be shut down from throwing for at least four weeks, but don’t be surprised if this extends closer to six weeks. In about a month the Mets will send deGrom for follow-up scans to determine how the bone is healing. When it is fully healed and the inflammation subsides he can pick up the baseball again and restart his throwing program. It’s then going to take anywhere from 6-8 weeks for him to build up his arm strength. I’m expecting a very cautious and slow approach due to his recent injury problems. deGrom doesn’t just need to be concerned about the scapula healing properly. That UCL is still compromised. And yes, I’m aware that it was a partial tear that he says has fully healed with rehab. There just aren’t many pitchers who have been able to successfully avoid Tommy John surgery. deGrom’s elbow fell strong before the shoulder flared up, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still lead to future problems.

This is a complicated and unfortunate injury situation. Baseball is a better game when deGrom is on the mound. Unfortunately this is a prime example of injuries compounding and the body breaking down. One things leads to another, and it can be a downward spiral for pitchers. In 15 starts last season, he posted a 1.08 ERA and in 92 innings struck out 146 batters and walked just 11, but deGrom’s days of being the Mets ace are over for now.

The best case scenario here is that deGrom can return shortly before the All Star break healthy and ready to go. Building up muscle strength and improving flexibility of all of the arm muscles will be crucial to deGrom staying healthy the remainder of the season. While this is a tough break for deGrom, it could have been a lot worse. At least there isn’t a rotator cuff tear or other significant ligament/tendon/muscle damage that could require surgery and end his season. The scapula should heal well on its own, it just needs time.

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