deGrom could return soon in relief role

Right-hander tosses 35-pitch bullpen session Monday

deGrom could return soon in relief role

WASHINGTON -- Jacob deGrom's return to the Mets may happen imminently -- and in an unfamiliar role. Should deGrom's sore right forearm respond well to the 35-pitch bullpen session that he threw Monday at Nationals Park, the right-hander could appear as a reliever as soon as this week.

The Mets tentatively plan to use deGrom in relief at least initially, as he works back into game shape. He has appeared in a game just once since Aug. 24, throwing five ineffective innings in a Sept. 1 loss to the Marlins.

After that start, deGrom rested for seven days before playing catch for the first time on Friday. A day later, he threw a light 10-pitch bullpen session, followed by Monday's more intensive 35-pitch session broken into two parts.

"I let it go a little bit," deGrom said, noting that he threw fastballs, changeups and sliders.

For now, the Mets are anxious to see how deGrom's arm feels Tuesday, the day after his bullpen session. But even if deGrom experiences minimal soreness, he is not stretched out enough to assume a full starter's workload five days from Monday, when his rotation turn -- currently Rafael Montero's spot -- comes up again. That is why the Mets hope to start him in the bullpen, knowing also that game action is a different animal than afternoon bullpen sessions.

Regardless of how it unfolds, the Mets are eager to have deGrom back. He was their best and most consistent pitcher over the season's first four and a half months, going 7-5 with a 2.29 ERA. He subsequently went 0-3 with a 9.82 mark in three outings before the Mets shut him down.

It has been a trying season in general for deGrom, who endured a right lat issue in April in addition to his current woes. After throwing a career-high 216 innings between the regular season and playoffs last year, deGrom has managed just 148 innings this season.

"I've been battling through some stuff this year," deGrom said. "The rest, I think, definitely won't hurt. … This whole year has been a battle to get my mechanics where I want them. I've had some bumps in the road, but they thankfully haven't been serious."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.