“I’m definitely excited,” deGrom said Sunday. “It’s been a long time. This has been a pretty slow process of coming back, so excited to be out there. Nerves haven’t really set in yet, but I’m sure Tuesday I’ll be pretty nervous and I have a feeling it’s going to feel like my debut.”
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner has not pitched for the Mets since July 7, 2021. The 34-year-old right-hander was sidelined the final three months of last season with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow, then was shut down late in spring training because of a stress reaction in his right scapula.
“After I did it, it didn’t take long to feel good. That’s where it was kind of an interesting thing of trying not to do too much,” he said
He said the shortened spring training following the lockout was a contributing factor.
“It was constant contact with these guys, and tried to stick with the plan and not move too fast,” he said. “We looked at why we thought it happened with the quick ramp-up, so played it safe by taking extra days and making sure that everything was where we wanted it. That way, there were no setbacks in this process. … Going into spring, with the lockout and the unknown, maybe I didn’t have enough time to build up. You look at a stress reaction and what that injury kind of is, it’s ramping up too quick.”
He compared video of this year with his Cy Young Award-winning seasons and concluded he was more upright now and leaning toward first base during his follow-through.
DeGrom has made four minor league rehab starts totaling 12 2/3 innings, two at Class A St. Lucie and two with Syracuse. He’s allowed five runs — four earned — and seven hits with 21 strikeouts and four walks, hitting 100 mph on the radar gun even in his first outing.
“I think more than anything feeling for him and the emotions he’s going through,” Showalter said. “It’s been a long haul for him, knowing how hard he’s worked and how frustrating it’s been. You know how much he likes to compete and pitch.”
DeGrom won consecutive Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019. He is 77-53 with a 2.50 ERA in eight major league seasons.
DeGrom repeated he intends to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, giving up $30.5 million of guaranteed salary next year, of which $12 million would be deferred without interest. He had the opt-out right as part of his $137 million, five-year contract.
“Still the same,” he said.