NEW YORK -- A nagging lat injury has become enough of a concern for the Mets to proceed with caution: the team announced Sunday that it will skip Jacob deGrom's turn in the rotation due to lingering right lat soreness. Right-hander Logan Verrett will make a spot start for a Mets team hopeful that deGrom will miss only one start.
"That's what I expect," deGrom said. "I don't think it should be any more than that. …We're pretty happy with how it's improving already. We're just erring on the side of caution."
Initially feeling lat discomfort during the sixth inning of Friday's start against the Phillies, deGrom was scheduled to throw a bullpen session two days later. The Mets scrapped that in part due to cold weather at Citi Field, but have no plans to send deGrom for an MRI or further testing.
Mets manager Terry Collins described deGrom's lat early Sunday morning as "improved, but not enough." The team is not considering a disabled list stint at this time, preferring to wait to see how deGrom's lat responds to further rest and treatment.
"He said he felt better," Collins said. "It's just not where we need to have it."
The Mets, at least, can take some comfort in the presence of Verrett, who broke camp with the team despite expectations that he would stretch out as a starter at Triple-A Las Vegas. A former third-round Draft pick, Verrett memorably delivered eight innings of one-run ball in an August spot start for Matt Harvey in Denver, going on to post a 3.03 ERA for the Mets in four starts and 10 relief appearances. Though Verrett has not pitched since April 1, he considers himself adaptable enough to shrug off any rust.
"I feel good about going into this one," Verrett said. "I did it quite a bit last year, so I feel like I'm a little used to it. You just go out there and try to put up zeros every single inning. Not a big deal."
Still, the Mets hope for deGrom, their lone All-Star last season, to return as soon as possible. Despite a downtick in velocity that Collins does not believe had anything to do with his lat muscle, deGrom mustered six innings of one-run ball in his debut Friday against the Phillies. A rapid return to health could have him back in the rotation by the middle of the team's upcoming road trip to Cleveland, Philadelphia and Atlanta.
"I would say it's quite a bit better today," deGrom said. "I think we're going to err on the side of caution though this early in the season."
One side benefit of the skipped start is that deGrom no longer must fret over logistics regarding the birth of his first child, who is five days overdue. DeGrom will simply stick with the team until his wife tells him the baby is close, at which point he will fly down to Florida to be with her.