NEW YORK -- Seth Lugo, who led all Mets pitchers this spring with 26 1/3 combined innings between Grapefruit League and World Baseball Classic play, appears headed to a season-opening stint on the disabled list, according to a source. That opens the Mets' final bullpen spot for right-hander Rafael Montero.
Lugo underwent an MRI this weekend after complaining of a tired arm. Though that test did not reveal any structural damage, according to a source, the team plans to place him on the 10-day DL prior to Sunday morning's roster deadline.
A fifth starter candidate at the dawn of camp, Lugo lost a battle with Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman, both of whom made the rotation. He finished spring with a 4.78 combined ERA in Grapefruit League games and the Classic, giving up four runs on eight hits over 4 1/3 innings in his final start Monday against the Nationals.
"That might have been where I got my arm a little tired, was just trying to do a bit too much that last outing in spring, trying to have the same intensity I had in the World Baseball Classic," Lugo said. "I think I just didn't know that I needed to back off a little bit, focus on getting ready for the season."
Lugo's absence opens the door for Montero, once a long-shot candidate to make the team, to join the bullpen. In nine spring relief appearances and one start, Montero posted a 1.77 ERA, striking out 23 batters in 20 1/3 innings. General manager Sandy Alderson called Montero's spring performance "a renaissance" for a player the Mets once considered a better pitching prospect than Jacob deGrom.
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.