NEW YORK (AP) — Mets ace Jacob deGrom is finally ready to begin a minor league rehab assignment.
Sidelined by injuries since last July, the two-time Cy Young Award winner is scheduled to start Sunday night for class A St. Lucie against the Jupiter Hammerheads. He's expected to throw about 25 pitches and two innings.
It will be the first competitive outing since spring training for deGrom, sidelined all season because of a stress reaction in his right scapula that caused inflammation.
The announcement Saturday by NL East-leading New York came nearly a year since deGrom's last major league outing 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 has been facing hitters at the team's complex in Florida and the Mets said he felt good after throwing 27 pitches to batters on Wednesday.
As he builds up arm strength and stamina, deGrom will need several minor league rehab outings before he's ready to rejoin New York's rotation.
"Excited that he'll be back, when that time comes. But just going to let the player kind of drive the pace and the cadence," Mets general manager Billy Eppler said.
Eppler likened the process to a typical spring training progression, and manager Buck Showalter said deGrom won't return until he's stretched out enough that he could pitch five innings or more.
So the likelihood is deGrom still won't be back in the big leagues until at least late July, after the All-Star break.
"If you follow the schedule, he's hit every benchmark and we're happy with that and we'll see how he does on Sunday," Showalter said. "We'll see if there's any adjustments to the schedule we have that need to be made. We know where it takes us, but we'll go outing to outing and see how he feels the next day and obviously talk to Jake."
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.