Jacob deGrom opens up about 2021 end-of-season injury

NEW YORK – When Jacob deGrom left the mound on the afternoon of July 7, there was little reason to suspect he would not be throwing again this season. Privately, deGrom harbored some concern about his right forearm, which felt unusually tired. But even deGrom believed he would rest during the All-Star break and resume his historic campaign in the second half.

Four months later, deGrom still hasn’t returned to the mound. As the Mets moved up from first place to third in the National League East, the sum of his work involved enclosure sessions and wrestling games.

“You just see how this affects everyone,” deGrom said in a telephone interview last week, offering his first extended comments since July. “It’s like, ‘Dude, I should be over there playing. I should be there to take the ball every five days. So it’s just frustrating. I was definitely frustrated. It was one of those things that I just couldn’t get rid of.

Mets’ near-term future hinges largely on deGrom’s right-hand man, who produced a 1.08 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 92 innings before his season-ending injury. Scheduled to turn 34 next June, deGrom will remain in the squad’s control for at least one more season, after which he can retire from his contract – a prospect that seemed inevitable a year ago but has since become less certain.

The team also need deGrom at his best if they are to compete for a playoff berth starting next season.

“I have to take a lot of responsibility for [the Mets] below, ”said deGrom. “I don’t run every five days and I feel like I can help the team win. So to go down and not be able to go there and throw, that’s definitely a bummer for me. But it’s also a disappointment for the team. So I take a lot of responsibility for that.

Over the past two seasons, deGrom has been running out of time due to neck, latitude, back, shoulder, forearm and elbow issues, none of which turned out to be too serious until his last start of the first half against the Brewers. In the seventh inning of that game, deGrom experienced unusual pain in his right forearm. At first he thought little about it. But when the Mets resumed their season a week later in Pittsburgh, deGrom still felt uneasy. The club scheduled him for what has become the first of several MRI scans.

Although the MRI only revealed slight tension in his forearm, the discomfort in deGrom’s arm spread from his forearm to the elbow in the days that followed. He now believes that positioning his arm in that MRI tube – he was lying on his stomach with his elbow raised above him for almost an hour – exacerbated the problem.

“I honestly think that’s what made it worse,” he said.

Two weeks after the test in Pittsburgh, deGrom underwent a follow-up MRI in New York City that revealed inflammation around his UCL – what Mets team president Sandy Alderson later called a partial ligament tear . After deGrom’s inflammation subsided two weeks later, three orthopedists confirmed that his ligament was completely intact: the team’s doctor, Dr David Altchek, as well as external orthopedists Dr Neal ElAttrache and Dr Keith Meister.

Two more weeks passed before another test – deGrom’s fourth MRI in less than two months – came back clean enough for him to resume throwing. He did so at the end of August, but he didn’t have time to return to the mound without rushing. Finally, when the Mets fell out of favor in the playoffs, deGrom agreed to shut down for the year.

“If we made it to the playoffs, it was definitely like, ‘Hey, I’m running the playoffs,’” deGrom said. “I think once we saw that we were sort of out of it, it was like, ‘OK, there’s no reason to keep pushing this. Let’s stop it, rest and be healthy for next year.

This is what deGrom is doing now. At his home in DeLand, Fla., DeGrom plans to start his offseason capture routine on Monday, as he does every November 1. even after pushing his fastball to 98 mph – all positive signs for a 2022 rebound season. He hasn’t spoken to Steve Cohen recently, except for a brief conversation in which the owner of the Mets told deGrom to “get well and… be ready for next year. “.

As for his retirement after next season, deGrom said it was “just something that we will have to see how next year turns out.” He called his injury a motivator to prove he can still make over 30 starts, which would describe both his contract decision and his remaining career arc in a different light.

“In this game the main goal is to stay healthy, and I haven’t been able to do that this year,” said deGrom. “I will compete for as long as I can. You never know how long you can play this game, [so] enjoy it and go ahead and do your best while you can. Nobody knows. Maybe I’ll play until I’m 40. Maybe I’ll play until I’m 50. Who knows ?

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Margarita B. Bittner

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