Oh Noah! More waiting!
ATLANTA — Rehab is tedious and Noah Syndergaard is starting to get bored. It’s been four months since he has felt the adrenaline of taking the mound in a major league game pump through him. The Mets righthander has had to settle for bullpen sessions, two minor-league rehab appearances and seemingly endless days of playing catch.
“I am just anxious to get back. Right now we’re out of it, but for my personal well-being I want to go out there and throw and not let 10 months go by without pitching in a meaningful baseball game,” Syndergaard said. “I mean meaningful to me.”
That means pitching an inning or two in at least one of the Mets’ final 14 games to Syndergaard, who has been on the disabled list since May with a torn right lat muscle.
But, seemingly in an abundance of caution, the Mets are making Syndergaard wait a little longer.
After saying he did not need to face hitters in a simulated game before pitching in a game, now Syndergaard’s next step will be a simulated game early next week. The change seemed to have come after a discussion between pitching coach, Collins and GM Sandy Alderson.
“We’re just trying to make sure we do it the right way, without rushing,” Terry Collins said. “There is no reason to rush so, we’re just going to make sure we take baby steps.”
The reason for the change is that they are concerned about Syndergaard, excited to get back, amping up the intensity too quickly. The last time he faced batters, in a minor league rehab game, Syndergaard experienced “general soreness,” three days later. He was pushed back from a simulated game then and his rehab slowed down. The Mets are concerned that he would over-exert himself if he went out without a dry run facing hitters first and they could have yet another setback.
“Anytime there’s a hitter in there, there’s always more effort and concentration,” Collins said.
While anxious to get back in a game, Syndergaard said he understood the Mets’ concerns. All but one Mets starter, Saturday night’s starter Jacob deGrom, has spent time on the disabled list this season and Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz are already done for the season.
“Of course, just with all the injuries throughout this year, they probably want to be extra careful,” Syndergaard said, “but like I said, for me personally, it’s important that I get back out there.”
That’s a more mature and cooperative approach than we saw from Syndergaard earlier this year.
This is the 25-year-old’s first experience missing significant time with a serious injury and maybe it has been a learning process for him. He was criticized for now not listening to the Mets’ advice earlier this year when he felt what they thought was biceps tendinitis. Syndergaard refused to have an MRI on his arm and tried to talk his way into pitching. The Mets pushed him back, but his very next start he went out throwing exceptionally hard and left in the second inning with the torn right lat.
There has been debate about what caused Syndergaard’s injury. Some blamed his offseason attempts to get stronger and there are a few who believe he was trying throw so hard to compensate for a bad defense behind him.
Either way, Syndergaard is trying to be patient, but has been away from the mound for over four months now and he feels like he is ready to get back.
“As of right now. Yeah, probably,” Syndergaard said when asked if he could pitch Sunday. “Still, it’s like a slow process, and I am going to make sure I am 100% ready to go, not just at 90%. So, we’ll be careful.” ut Syndergaard still thinks it’s important that he not go 10 months without pitching. Ending the season on as normal a routine, pitching and throwing, as he possibly can is important to him heading into the winter.
“I am not too concerned me coming back and not being able to get big league hitters out, I am pretty comfortable with that,” Syndergaard said. “I am just getting bored. It’s been four months since I’ve competed in a game, I am getting personally anxious to get out there.”