Noah Syndergaard’s comeback is set to take a big step forward this week.
The Mets right-hander is likely to begin a rehab assignment “hopefully this week,” acting general manager Zack Scott said Tuesday. Syndergaard, who had his first rehab assignment from Tommy John surgery cut short in May because of elbow discomfort, is expected to come back as a reliever in order to expedite his return.
Scott did not have an exact date for Syndergaard’s rehab assignment to begin, nor how many outings he would need, but planned to talk about that with the team’s performance staff after Syndergaard threw a touch-and-feel side session on Tuesday.
“You kind of have to take it as it goes, to some degree,” Scott said. “See how he does if he starts lengthening out. Does that change the way he feels? Does this change the power and stuff? We learn a lot as we go.”
Scott said he has not had a “formal conversation” with Syndergaard about his role when he returns, but called it an “obvious conversation.”
“He knows we want to get him back in big league games because we think he can help us, and if he is stretched out for three innings and we decide that’s what makes the most sense for the team at that time, then I think he knows,” Scott said. “He wants the same thing, he just wants to be able to help us win games.”
Jacob deGrom, who has been shut down for four weeks with elbow inflammation, will have his all-important next MRI exam Wednesday. If it shows “continued improvement,” according to Scott, he could be cleared to begin a throwing program.
The earliest deGrom could return is Sept. 13 because the Mets recently transferred him to the 60-day injured list, but he is unlikely to be ready by then, even if he gets the green light to start throwing again this week.
As for whether “continued improvement” meant no inflammation, Scott said he would trust Dr. David Altchek’s judgement.
“He’ll give us the green light or maybe it’ll be a more nuanced conversation than that,” Scott said.
Scott said if deGrom is healthy, he would pitch even if the Mets fall further out of contention by the time he returns.
“It’s important for him to be in a good place going into the offseason,” Scott said. “That can influence how we set up his offseason plan — what he’s going to do in terms of working out, a throwing program, all those types of things.”
Scott also said he is not concerned about deGrom needing surgery long-term to address the issue.
The Mets optioned infielder Travis Blankenhorn to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Francisco Lindor, who was activated off the IL. They also added reliever Heath Hembree to the active roster, after claiming him off waivers from the Reds, and optioned Yennsy Diaz to Syracuse.