Buck Showalter evaluated Jacob deGrom’s facial expressions and body language as he watched, from a monitor, the ace throw his third live batting practice session.
“You can tell he’s upbeat about where he is,” the manager said before the Mets hosted the Astros on Wednesday.
Physically, deGrom is in Port St. Lucie, but there is a growing possibility a rehab assignment is close.
DeGrom faced hitters and threw 27 pitches – up from the 20 he threw Saturday – and the Mets came away encouraged, if not ready just yet to reveal his next steps.
The Mets will see how deGrom feels Thursday before officially announcing anything.
“All these things he’s doing are setting up to pitch in games,” Showalter said of deGrom, who is approaching the July 7, one-year anniversary of the last time he pitched in a major league game. “He hasn’t had anything that’s taken him off schedule so far.”
DeGrom, who was shut down on April 1 after imaging showed a stress reaction on his right scapula, began throwing in May before pitching from the mound again early this month. The first-place Mets have thrived without perhaps the best pitcher in baseball, but injuries to Max Scherzer and Tylor Megill and a downturn in performance from Carlos Carrasco have intensified the need for their front-of-the-rotation stars.
Scherzer, who is recovering from an oblique strain, is expected to make a second rehab start Wednesday with Double-A Binghamton in Hartford, Conn. It originally was scheduled for Tuesday, but the Mets pushed it back a day.
“I was going to send him a [message saying], ‘Good luck with the Yard Goats, but I don’t think he’d take it well,” Showalter said of the Rockies affiliate. “Maybe I will anyway.”